Richard Grenell, who Trump appointed last week as Acting Director of National Intelligence, failed to report money earnt as a media consultant working for an allegedly corrupt and mega-wealthy Moldovan politician named Vladimir Plahotniuc.
Failing to declare the income means Grenell has potentially broken the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), a federal law that requires government employees to disclose their work on behalf of foreign politicians.
Grenell ran a public affairs consulting firm called Capitol Media Partners (CMP) which received more than $5,000 to work as a media consultant for Plahotniuc as reported by Pro Publica. Grenell defended Plahotniuc in op-eds published in the Washington Examiner and the Washington Times in August 2016.
Grenell’s op-eds called the corruption allegations against Plahotniuc an anti-Western plot by Russia, a stance that aligned with Plahotniuc’s goals to rehabilitate his public image and gain access to US politicians. Plahotniuc was later barred from the US for widespread corruption charges and has since gone into hiding to evade prosecution by European authorities.
Grenell has denied taking money for the op-eds saying he was supporting Plahotniuc’s “pro-Western political party”. Regardless, Grenell’s non-disclosure of his op-eds may have violated FARA, a law that exists to prevent high-level government employees from being influenced or blackmailed by foreign government agents.
The law is especially important considering that Grenell has recently been named by Trump as the Acting Director Of National Intelligence (DNI), a job which even a Republican senator says Grenell is unqualified for.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said, “As one of the four authors of the law that created the DNI back in 2004, I care deeply about that position and believe the person needs experience in the intelligence community, which regrettably Ambassador Grenell does not have.”
UN ambassador Susan Rice agreed, saying Grenell has “absolutely no background, no preparation, and no knowledge” to be the DNI, adding, “He is a hack and a shill and that’s all he’s ever been.” She said Grenell has been named as DNI for one reason: to use government intelligence for Trump’s personal benefit.