The Human Rights Campaign, a progressive lobbyist organization, is attempting to erase the existence of Richard Grenell, the first ever openly LGBTQ individual to hold a cabinet level position in a U.S. presidential administration.
Under President Donald Trump, Grenell first served as ambassador to Germany before his appointment as acting Director of National Intelligence. Grenell replaced Joseph Maguire, who advised members of the House Intelligence Committee that Russia was interfering with the 2020 election in an effort to re-elect Trump — a claim that remains unproven. His claims prompted chastisement from Trump, who subsequently replaced him with Grenell.
As Acting DNI, Grenell maintained his position as ambassador to Germany and was not subject to a Senate confirmation. The Human Rights Campaign seized upon this detail to boast about the Biden administration’s appointment of Pete Buttigieg, a former contender in the Democratic primary for the U.S. presidential race, to the cabinet as Transportation Secretary.
Buttigieg was voted in 86-13, with Sens. Hawley, Blackburn, Cruz, Rubio, Scott, Hagerty, and Langford and other Republican members of the Senate dissenting.
The announcement by the HRC has been met with widespread condemnation from conservatives arguing that Buttigieg is not the first openly gay cabinet member, nor the first to be confirmed by the Senate. Grenell’s appointment to his ambassadorial position was indeed confirmed by the Senate in April 2018, prior to his role as Acting Director of National Intelligence.
Apart from the prefix of “Acting,” there is little distinction between the role Grenell played and what a Senate-confirmed appointee to the position of Director of National Intelligence would have done. The position entails heading the United States Intelligence Community and serving as advisor to the president on matters of national security and intelligence.