How The Impasse On Ric Grenell Broke

Saagar Enjeti | White House Correspondent

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to push for a confirmation vote for Richard Grenell is a result of both pressure from conservatives and the impending visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the U.S.

Grenell was nominated by President Donald Trump to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to Germany in September 2017, but has languished for months without a Senate vote. The former Bush administration official’s nomination was held up from unanimous approval by Senate Democrats.

Conservative activists and the White House mounted a months-long campaign to pressure Democrats to either drop their opposition to Grenell or have McConnell hold a vote on his nomination, which costs valuable debate time on the floor of theSsenate. A source familiar with the campaign to confirm Grenell noted that conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt and Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow were particularly virulent in calling on McConnell to hold a vote.

The conservative pressure campaign and general dissatisfaction came to a head over the weekend with an encounter between Grenell and Trump at the president’s club in Mar-a-lago, Florida.

A source close to Grenell noted to TheDC that Trump encountered him while he was dining at Mar-a-Lago with Newsmax chairman Chris Rudy and Broadway producer Terry Allen Kramer. The dinner’s participants impressed upon Trump the importance of having Grenell confirmed ahead of Merkel’s visit Friday, sparking public and private pressure on McConnell.

Trump publicly mentioned Grenell’s plight in a Monday tweet after returning from Mar-a-Lago, as well as calling out his vacancy during a joint press conference with French President Emanuel Macron Tuesday. “I’m waiting for very good people like the Ambassador to Germany,” he said.

Trump’s personal pressure and Merkel’s impending Friday visit sparked McConnells decision to file for cloture on Grenell’s nomination. Administration officials expect Grenell to be confirmed in full Thursday after a vote on Mike Pompeo to be the next secretary of state.

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