Open main menu

Richard Allen Grenell (born September 18, 1966) is the current United States Ambassador to Germany. He is the longest serving U.S. spokesman at the United Nations.

Richard Grenell
Richard Grenell official photo.jpg
United States Ambassador to Germany
Assumed office
May 8, 2018
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byJohn B. Emerson
Personal details
Born (1966-09-18) September 18, 1966 (age 53)
Jenison, Michigan, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationEvangel University (BA)
Harvard University (MPA)

Grenell served for a time as national security spokesperson for Mitt Romney in his 2012 campaign for President of the United States, becoming the first openly gay spokesperson for a Republican presidential candidate.[1][2]

In September 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Grenell to be U.S. Ambassador to Germany.[3] He was confirmed by the United States Senate by a vote of 56 to 42 on April 26, 2018.[4] He presented his credentials to the President of Germany on May 8, 2018.[5]

Early life and educationEdit

Grenell graduated with a bachelor's degree in Government and Public Administration from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri. He received a master's degree in Public Administration from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government [6]


Prior to his post at the UN, Grenell was a political adviser to a number of prominent Republicans, including George Pataki and Dave Camp.[7]

United Nations (2001–2008)Edit

Grenell voting at a UN Security Council meeting in 2005

In 2001, Grenell was appointed by President George W. Bush as Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy for the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Serving in that role until 2008, Grenell became the longest serving U.S. spokesman at the United Nations, advising four different U.S. Ambassadors. During his tenure, Grenell led communication strategies on such issues as the War on Terror, global peacekeeping operations, Iran and North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, and the UN Oil for Food corruption scandal.[6]


In 2009, Grenell founded Capitol Media Partners, an international strategic media and public affairs consultancy with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C.[6] He was under contract with Fox News where he worked a contributor, commenting on foreign affairs and the media.[8][9] He has written for The Wall Street Journal,[10][11] CBS News,[12][13] CNN,[14] Politico,[15] Huffington Post,[16] The Washington Times,[17] Newsmax,[18] and Al Jazeera.[19] In 2012, CNN ranked Grenell's social media outreach as one of the top 5,[20] and Time magazine named Grenell as one of the Top 10 Political Twitter Feeds of 2014.[21] In 2013, Grenell was a signatory to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage during the Hollingsworth v. Perry case.[22]

Ambassador to GermanyEdit

Grenell (left) with Berlin Governing Mayor Michael Müller in 2018

In September 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Grenell to become the United States Ambassador to Germany. After a significant delay, the Senate confirmed Grenell 56–42 on April 26, 2018.[23] He was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence on May 7, 2018, making Grenell the highest-ranking openly gay official ever in a Republican administration.[24][25] Grenell was also under consideration for the posts of U.S. Ambassador to NATO and United States Ambassador to the United Nations.[26][27]

In May 2018, within hours of taking office in Berlin as US Ambassador, Grenell offended diplomats and business leaders when he tweeted that “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.”[28] The tweet was widely perceived as a threat, with the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn, commenting that "This man was accredited as ambassador only yesterday. To give German businesses such orders … that’s just not how you can treat your allies.”[29] The leader of Germany's Social Democratic Party stated that Grenell "does appear to need some tutoring" in the "fine art of diplomacy", while the Die Linke party urged the Merkel government to summon Grenell to explain his comments.[29]

In June 2018, Grenell stirred controversy by telling Breitbart News, "I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders."[30] It was viewed as anti-establishment.[31][32] This was described as a breach of diplomatic protocol and a breach of Article 14 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which requires ambassadors to be politically neutral in the domestic politics of the countries where they serve.[33][30] Prominent German politicians called for Grenell's dismissal.[34][35][36][37] Martin Schulz, former leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, said, "What this man is doing is unheard of in international diplomacy. If a German ambassador were to say in Washington that he is there to boost the Democrats, he would have been kicked out immediately."[34]

Grenell was a regular contributor on Fox News's Tucker Carlson Tonight during the first few months of his Ambassadorship in Germany. In November 2018 he made an appearance where he repeated his criticism of Angela Merkel's immigration policies and compared her unfavorably to the recently-elected Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz, whom he claimed "won in a very big way" because of his strict stance on immigration. The magazine Der Spiegel called it a "thinly veiled call for a change of government in Berlin".[33]

In December 2018, during the affair surrounding Der Spiegel journalist Claas Relotius, Grenell wrote to the magazine complaining about an anti-American institutional bias ("Anti-Amerikanismus") and asked for an independent investigation.[38][39] Grenell wrote that "These fake news stories largely focus on U.S. policies and certain segments of the American people."[40]

In January 2019, Grenell told Handelsblatt that European companies participating in the construction of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline are "always in danger, because sanctions are always possible". The Trump administration has long opposed the Russian-backed Nord Stream 2 — a pipeline for delivering natural gas from Russia to Germany.[41] Within that context he also sent letters to German companies involved in the construction of said Nord Stream 2, threatening sanctions.[42] In response, Angela Merkel's successor as leader of the Christian Democrat Union, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, stated that "The American Ambassador operates in a, shall I say, somewhat unusual diplomatic manner."[43]

Der Spiegel published a profile of Grenell on January 11, 2019, using interviews with 30 “American and German diplomats, cabinet members, lawmakers, high-ranking officials, lobbyists and think tank experts". The magazine claimed that "Almost all of these sources paint an unflattering portrait of the ambassador, one remarkably similar to Donald Trump, the man who sent him to Berlin. A majority of them describe Grenell as a vain, narcissistic person who dishes out aggressively, but can barely handle criticism." The profile claimed that Grenell is politically isolated in Berlin because of his association with the far-right Alternative for Germany Party, causing the leaders of the mainstream German parties, including the Chancellor herself, to avoid contact with him.[33] The sources claimed that Grenell "knows little about Germany and Europe, that he ignores most of the dossiers his colleagues at the embassy write for him, and that his knowledge of the subject matter is superficial."[33]

In February 2019, it was announced that Grenell was leading the Trump administration's newly formed effort to promote the decriminalization of homosexuality in nations in which homosexuality was illegal.[44] In March 2019, Wolfgang Kubicki, deputy chairman of the Free Democratic Party, called for Grenell to be expelled from Germany, stating, "Any U.S. diplomat who acts like a high commissioner of an occupying power must learn that our tolerance also knows its limits."[45]

Personal lifeEdit

Grenell is a registered Republican.[46]

In June 2013, Grenell revealed that he had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and started chemotherapy.[47] In September 2013, Grenell announced that he was in remission.[48]

Grenell has a longtime partner, Matt Lashey.[49]


  1. ^ "Mitt Romney's Appointment of Gay Aide Richard Grenell Signals New Attitude". ABC News. April 6, 2012.
  2. ^ "Mitt Romney's Gay Spokesman: A Milestone in Republican Politics". The Atlantic. April 24, 2012.
  3. ^ Giaritelli, Anna. "Trump picks 42 key administration nominees, including heads of NASA and Office of National Drug Control Policy". Washington Examiner. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  4. ^ Demirjian, Karoun (April 26, 2018). "Senate confirms Grenell as ambassador to Germany over Democrats' objections". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  5. ^ EDT, David Brennan On 5/9/18 at 12:24 PM (May 9, 2018). "What was your worst start to a new job? Trump's new German ambassador offended his hosts almost immediately". Newsweek. Retrieved July 11, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c "About".
  7. ^ "Richard Grenell, Openly Gay Romney Spokesman, Resigns From Post". ABC News. May 1, 2012.
  8. ^ "Richard Grenell". Fox News. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  9. ^ "Richard Grenell Re-Signs with Fox News Through Election 2016". Mediaite. October 15, 2014.
  10. ^ Grenell, Richard (May 22, 2012). "Marriage, Gay Republicans and the Election". The Wall Street Journal.
  11. ^ Grenell, Richard (November 21, 2011). "Obama's Failing Iran Diplomacy". The Wall Street Journal.
  12. ^ Grenell, Richard (January 30, 2010). "Holden Caulfield and Me". CBS News.
  13. ^ Grenell, Richard (April 18, 2010). "Why Yahoo Ought to Follow Google's Lead on China". CBS News.
  14. ^ Grenell, Richard (December 1, 2009). "GOP rescuing Obama's Afghan policy". CNN.
  15. ^ "Arena Profile: Richard A. Grenell". Politico.
  16. ^ Grenell, Richard. "Richard Grenell". The Huffington Post.
  17. ^ Grenell, Richard (March 19, 2015). "Nigeria on the brink". The Washington Times.
  18. ^ Grenell, Richard (November 19, 2012). "Obama Praises Burma, Ignores Strife in Iran, Syria". Newsmax.
  19. ^ Grenell, Richard (December 30, 2009). "A year of little change for Obama". Al Jazeera.
  20. ^ "CNN's Gut Check for August 31, 2012". CNN. August 31, 2012.
  21. ^ "The Best Twitter Feeds of 2014: Richard Grenell". Time. May 5, 2014.
  22. ^ "The Pro-Freedom Republicans Are Coming: 131 Sign Gay-Marriage Brief". The Daily Beast. February 28, 2013.
  23. ^ Blumberg, Antonia (April 26, 2018). "Senate Confirms Richard Grenell, Trump Nominee For Ambassador To Germany". Retrieved June 6, 2018 – via Huff Post.
  24. ^, The Washington Times. "Richard Grenell, gay ambassador, sworn in by Mike Pence". Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  25. ^ "Openly gay U.S. ambassador to Germany makes Republican history". NBC News. June 6, 2018.
  26. ^ "Trump to Pick Former UN Spokesman Grenell for NATO Post, White House Says". March 8, 2017. Retrieved June 6, 2018 – via
  27. ^ "The president-elect was considering tapping Richard Grenell as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations."Chicago Tribune, November 14, 2016
  28. ^ Antonia Blumberg (May 9, 2018). "New U.S. Ambassador to Germany Offends Hosts Just Hours Into His First Day". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  29. ^ a b Rick Noack (May 9, 2018). "Hours into his new job, Trump's ambassador to Germany offends his hosts". Washington Post. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  30. ^ a b Oltermann, Philip (June 4, 2018). "New US ambassador to Germany under fire for rightwing support". the Guardian. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  31. ^ Robbie Gramer (June 6, 2018). "State Department Defends Trump's Man in Berlin After Diplomatic Firestorm". Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  32. ^ Luis Sanchez (June 3, 2018). "Trump's ambassador to Germany says he wants to 'empower' European conservatives". Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  33. ^ a b c d Konstantin von Hammerstein (January 11, 2019). "Trump's Ambassador Finds Few Friends in Germany". Der Spiegel. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  34. ^ a b "German Politicians Call for Expulsion of Trump's Envoy". The Daily Beast. June 5, 2018. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  35. ^ "Deutschland: EU-Parlamentarier Brok kritisiert US-Botschafter-Interview auf "Breitbart"". ZEIT ONLINE (in German). Retrieved June 10, 2018.
  36. ^ (, Deutsche Welle. "US ambassador Richard Grenell should 'reconsider role' after Europe comments: German lawmaker | DW | 06.06.2018". DW.COM. Retrieved June 10, 2018.
  37. ^ "German lawmaker says U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell should reconsider role after 'empowerment' comments". USA TODAY. Retrieved June 10, 2018.
  38. ^ Connolly, Kate; Le Blond, Josie (December 23, 2018). "Der Spiegel takes the blame for scandal of reporter who faked stories". The Guardian. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  39. ^ "US-Botschaft wirft "Spiegel" "eklatanten Anti-Amerikanismus" vor" (in German). Die Welt. December 22, 2018.
  40. ^ "Der Spiegel to press charges against reporter who made up article about Fergus Falls, Minnesota". Star Tribune. December 24, 2018.
  41. ^ "How the US could halt Nord Stream 2". Handelsblatt. January 7, 2019.
  42. ^ "US-Botschafter Grenell schreibt Drohbriefe an deutsche Firmen". Spiegel Online. January 13, 2018.
  43. ^ Patrick Donahue (January 14, 2019). "Merkel Ally Pushes Back on Trump Envoy's Russian Pipeline Threat". Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  44. ^ "Trump administration launches global effort to end criminalization of homosexuality". NBC News. February 19, 2019. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  45. ^ Mills Rodrigo, Chris (March 19, 2019). "German opposition politician calls for US ambassador to be expelled". The Hill. Retrieved March 19, 2019.
  46. ^ "Gay Bush Appointee Loses Appeal for Fair Treatment". The Advocate. September 27, 2008.
  47. ^ "Joining the Fight". June 10, 2013.
  48. ^ Richard Grenell [@RichardGrenell] (September 30, 2013). "I'm officially in remission. #CancerFree @cityofhope" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  49. ^ Samuels, Brett (May 3, 2018). "Pence swears in Grenell as ambassador to Germany". Retrieved June 6, 2018.

External linksEdit

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John B. Emerson
United States Ambassador to Germany