With this recent record, there is virtually no chance that Mr. Grenell will be able to discern, let alone stay inside, the line between objectively providing intelligence and tendentiously supporting the president’s policies. That, of course, appears to be Mr. Trump’s hope and intention. From Mr. Trump’s standpoint, Mr. Grenell’s key qualification is that he is a shill for the president, a shameless political advocate. For this president, shamelessness and personal loyalty are paramount virtues.
Mr. Grenell’s appointment also makes brazenly obvious what was already quite clear: that the president sees impartial intelligence an impediment to the implementation of his policies unless it caters to his own political biases and often counterfactual contentions.
Among those biases is his sympathy for far-right influences in Europe, which Mr. Grenell publicly and emphatically shares. Neither the president nor his new intelligence chief is likely to focus sufficiently on the rising threat of transnational right-wing extremist groups. The dubious contentions include the president’s view, contrary to U.S. intelligence assessments, that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.