Richard Grenell — the out gay U.S. ambassador to Germany who Donald Trump recently named as acting director of National Intelligence — has failed to report his past work on behalf of a corrupt and mega-wealthy Moldovan politician named Vladimir Plahotniuc.
As such, Grenell’s actions may have possibly broken a law known as the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), a federal law that requires government employees to disclose their work on behalf of foreign politicians.
Concurrently, former National Security Adviser and U.N. ambassador Susan Rice called Grenell a “hack and a shill” and “one of the most nasty, dishonest people I’ve ever encountered.”
According to the investigative journalism website Pro Publica, Grenell ran a public affairs consulting firm called Capitol Media Partners (CMP) which received more than $5,000 to work as a media consultant for Plahotniuc. Plahotniuc is a mega-wealthy and once influential Moldovan politician who Grenell defended against corruption claims in several August 2016 op-eds for the Washington Examiner and the Washington Times.
Grenell’s op-eds called the corruption allegations against Plahotniuc an anti-Western plot by Russia, a stance that aligned with Plahotniuc’s goals to rehabilitate his public image and gain access to U.S. politicians. Plahotniuc was later barred from the U.S. for widespread corruption charges and has since gone into hiding to evade prosecution by European authorities.
Grenell denies that he was paid for his op-eds and says he merely wrote them to support Plahotniuc’s “pro-western political party.” Nevertheless, Grenell’s non-disclosure of his op-eds may have violated FARA, a law that exists to prevent high-level government employees from being influenced or blackmailed by foreign government agents.
The law is especially important considering that Grenell has recently been named by Trump as the acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI), a job which even a Republican senator says Grenell is unqualified for.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said, “As one of the four authors of the law that created the DNI back in 2004, I care deeply about that position and believe the person needs experience in the intelligence community, which regrettably Ambassador Grenell does not have.”
Rice agreed, saying Grenell has “absolutely no background, no preparation, and no knowledge” to be the DNI, adding, “He is a hack and a shill and that’s all he’s ever been.” She said Grenell has been named as DNI for one reason: to use government intelligence for Trump’s personal benefit.