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Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

President Trump confirmed in a tweet Wednesday night that he will install Richard Grenell, the current U.S. ambassador to Germany and a staunch defender of the president, as the acting director of national intelligence.

Why it matters: The role, which was originally vacated by Dan Coats in August 2019, is one of grave responsibility. As acting DNI, Grenell will be charged with overseeing and integrating the U.S. intelligence community and will advise the president and the National Security Council on intelligence matters that concern national security.

  • Trump has made no secret of his deep suspicion of and antipathy toward the intelligence community — which he has told advisers is populated by "Deep State" operatives who "hate Trump."
  • In Grenell, Trump will have an unwavering loyalist overseeing the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies. Grenell supported Trump during his 2016 campaign and has close ties to Trump's inner circle and the political network surrounding the White House.
  • Grenell will also be the first openly gay Cabinet secretary.

Between the lines: Before being confirmed as ambassador to Germany, Grenell spent much of the previous two decades as a political adviser to Republicans, as the longest-serving U.S. spokesperson to the United Nations, and as the founder of Capitol Media Partners — a media and public affairs consultancy. Grenell has never worked for an intelligence agency.

  • A regular on Fox News, Grenell has been aggressively pursuing Trump's agenda in Germany, earning high praise from Trump and impassioned complaints from some German politicians.
  • Grenell has already been Senate-confirmed as ambassador to Germany. It's not yet clear whether Trump will ultimately nominate him for the permanent DNI position, which would require another Senate confirmation. Trump has told people he likes putting people in "acting" positions because it gives him flexibility.

On Trump's behalf as ambassador, Grenell has pressured German companies to cut business with Iran, urged Germany to hike its NATO contributions and warned the Germans against participating in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia.

  • And on Sunday, Grenell tweeted: ".@realDonaldTrump just called me from AF1 and instructed me to make clear that any nation who chooses to use an untrustworthy 5G vendor will jeopardize our ability to share Intelligence and information at the highest level."
  • Some German politicians objected to this Twitter diplomacy, but Grenell doubled down. "No one is threatening you," he tweeted. "I could say you are threatening the US that we must continue as usual even when you make dangerous mistakes. We get to have our own policy too."

The big picture: Trump had a fraught relationship with previous DNI Coats and blocked deputy DNI Sue Gordon from becoming acting director upon Coats' departure in August 2019.

  • He later planned to nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), another loyalist who withdrew himself from consideration after it became clear some senators had concerns about his record.
  • The current acting DNI Joseph Maguire came under scrutiny early in his tenure for refusing to send Congress the Ukraine whistleblower complaint, which contained allegations that ultimately led to Trump's impeachment.

Go deeper

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

Gottlieb: CDC hampered U.S. response to COVID

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The CDC moved too slowly at several points in the coronavirus pandemic, ultimately hindering the U.S. response, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb writes in a new book, Uncontrolled Spread.

The big picture: The book argues that American intelligence agencies should have a much bigger role in pandemic preparedness, even if that's sometimes at the expense of public health agencies like the CDC.

911's digital makeover

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A next-generation 911 would allow the nation's 6,000 911 centers to accept texts, videos and photos.

The big picture: U.S. emergency communications have remained stubbornly analog, but Congress is about to take another run at dragging 911 into the digital age.

Biden enlists business leaders in campaign for vax mandates

President Joe Biden at a meeting with business leaders Sept. 15, 2021. Photo: Oliver Contretas/Getty Images

President Biden convened a meeting of top business leaders Wednesday to build support for a sweeping vaccine mandate that will affect most of America's workers. The message: Vaccines work, and the stalled uptake is holding back the economy.

Why it matters: As vaccine rates have flattened across the country, business leaders have the power to impact their employees’ decisions. Many corporate leaders had been looking for stronger federal guidance to lean on.