U.S. President Donald Trump is reportedly going to nominate Richard Grenell, a former spokesperson for the U.S. delegation to the United Nations, as his ambassador to NATO. Grenell's appointment, first reported by Bloomberg News on Tuesday, would make him the most senior openly gay member of the Trump administration.
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Grenell, 50, served for seven years as the spokesperson for the U.S. delegation to the United Nations under the Bush administration, working for four different ambassadors during that period. In 2009 he founded a political consultancy firm, Capitol Media Partners, and in 2012 he was involved in Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. Grenell has been a supporter of Trump's presidential run since the Republican primaries.
If his nomination is approved by the Senate, Grenell would represent the United States in an international organization that all previous U.S. administrations have viewed as strategic to American security and influence, but Trump has harshly criticized during his election campaign, at one point even saying the U.S. might have to withdraw from it.
Grenell's positions on NATO seem to be more in line with traditional Republican views. In 2014, for example, he supported adding Ukraine to the organization. Yet during the election campaign, Grenell defended Trump's threat to leave NATO and said he believed it was part of a negotiating tactic aimed at reforming the organization. Since the Trump administration assumed power, a number of senior officials - including Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis - have publicly promised that the U.S. will remain committed to NATO, at a time when many of the organization's members believe Russia is trying to weaken and dismantle it. These assurances haven't eased all the doubts the organization's member states have with regards to the Trump administration.
In related news, two members of the House of Representatives presented on Wednesday a bi-partisan resolution condemning Russian interference in European elections, in light of recent reports on Russian attempts to affect election results in France, Germany and other European democracies.
Titled "The Keeping Russia Out of European Elections Act," the resolution is intended to "send a strong message to Moscow: Republicans and Democrats in Congress stand united against Russia's efforts to meddle in other countries' democratic elections."
The resolution was presented by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) after a number of European governments recently reported that political parties and organizations in their political system were targeted by Russian cyber-attacks. Those reports came after American intelligence agencies have reached the conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections.
Roskam said that "Russia is attempting to undermine democracy and democratic institutions across the Western world. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees have launched inquiries into Russian interference in our own elections. While we await the results of that investigation, it's important we present a bipartisan front and make it very clear the U.S. Congress strongly condemns Russian malfeasance in Europe and around the world."