U.N. Spokesman Richard Grenell Resigns
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
By: Stewart Stogel
Richard Grenell, the longtime communications director and de facto press secretary for four U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations, tells Newsmax he will conclude his eight-year U.N. term Sept. 29.
Grenell plans to return to his California home to become a senior vice president and communications director at DaVita, a healthcare company based in El Segundo.
But Newsmax also has learned that Grenell is on a short list for consideration as the next State Department spokesman if Sen. John McCain is elected president in November.
Should Grenell return to D.C., he would follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, Jamie Rubin, who also was press spokesman at the U.S./U.N. mission before accompanying his boss, Madeleine K. Albright, to Washington for the second term of the Clinton administration.
Grenell’s resignation comes on the heels of the recent departure of his chief deputy, Ben Chang, who left the U.N. for a White House posting. Next in line for the exit is said to be Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who is expected to soon depart for the private sector.
That would leave Deputy Ambassador Alex Wolff, a career diplomat, to guide the U.S. operation until a new administration takes office in January.
The shifts take place with several high-profile issues confronting the White House, including the Iran nuclear standoff, the Russian invasion of Georgia, and the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
Grenell, one of the longest-serving press spokesmen at the U.S./U.N. mission, had what many consider a thankless job. He came to the U.N. in mid-2001 after stints working for San Diego Mayor Susan Golding and New York Gov. George Pataki.
He was forced to defend the eventually discredited speech on alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that then-Secretary of State Colin Powell made to the U.N. Security Council in February 2003.
He also led a quiet campaign that the Bush administration orchestrated to marginalize former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, whom the State Department considered a Clinton appointee. Annan had stated that Albright was influential in his decision to run for the U.N.’s top post in 1996.
Grenell also worked overtime trying to salvage the doomed nomination of John Bolton to the U.N. post. Eventually, Bolton withdrew his name under intense pressure from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden, D-Del.
The colorful Grenell, long a fixture at many press gatherings in New York City, insists that his public life is far from over.
“Stay tuned,” the coy official said, with a boyish grin.