Metro Weekly

Trump appoints Richard Grenell to Holocaust Memorial Council

Former Acting Director of National Intelligence will serve a five-year term on the Council, which meets twice each year

Richard Grenell — Photo: U.S. Consulate Munich / Wiki Commons

President Donald Trump has announced he will appoint former Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell to a position on the Holocaust Memorial Council.

The appointment is one of 42 that the outgoing president is making to reward close friends and loyal allies before he exits in January.

In addition to Grenell, former Florida Attorney General and campaign surrogate Pam Bondi has been named a member of the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; longtime aide and advisor Hope Hicks will be a member of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board; and Marcus Bachmann, the husband of former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), will be a member of the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

Being named to the Holocaust Memorial Council along with Grenell are Martin Oliner, a former mayor of Lawrence, N.Y. who serves as chairman of the Center for Righteousness and Integrity and chairman of the Religious Zionists of America; and Susan Levine, of Arizona, whose family made a $25 million contribution to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2014.

The Council was formed 40 years ago “to lead the nation in commemorating the Holocaust and to raise private funds for and build the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,” although the museum does receive some federal funding, reports The Daily Caller.

The Council is comprised of 55 presidential appointees, as well as five members each from the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, and three ex-officio members each from the Departments of Education, Interior, and State. Presidential appointees serve for five-year terms. The Council meets two times a year, with the Executive Council (of which Grenell is not a part) meeting four times a year.

The appointment of Grenell, who made history as both the first openly gay Acting Director of National Intelligence and first openly gay Cabinet-level appointee, is significant due to Grenell’s longstanding support for Israel as a U.S. State Department spokesperson to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration and as U.S. Ambassador to Germany under the Trump administration.

His status as an openly gay man is also a significant factor in his appointment, as the Nazi regime ended up killing around 10,000 to 15,000 homosexuals during its reign of terror, in addition to the 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust.

The pick of Grenell is guaranteed to rankle some on the left, who see Grenell as an unabashed Trump loyalist and have been critical of the longtime Republican operative.

As ambassador to Germany, Grenell sparked controversy and was criticized by German leaders for allegedly breaching diplomatic protocol — in which ambassadors generally shy away from partisan statements —  after giving an interview to Breitbart News in which he said he wished to “empower other conservatives throughout Europe.”

Grenell has been critical of Euro-centric policies, has hailed the rise of nationalist and right-wing populist movements in Europe, and has been particularly critical of Germany’s immigration-friendly policies, including its acceptance of refugees from the Muslim world.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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