WASHINGTON – Richard Grenell, former acting director of national intelligence and now the face of LGBTQ public relations for the Trump campaign, reprimanded a reporter at the White House briefing on Friday for asking him about the global initiative he was taking to decriminalize it which led to homosexuality.
In response to a question from Steven Nelson of the New York Post, Grenell, who spoke at the White House to announce a deal between Serbia and Kosovo that the Trump administration would make possible, he insisted that the questions relate to the deal should focus.
"I will only talk about Kosovo and Serbia, ”said Grenell. "I don't know if you can find it on a map, but that's cruel. I have to tell you. You may be too young to understand what this issue is about. Perhaps the older journalists should take a step and say, "This is a big deal. This is a big problem."
"I am amazed at what is happening in Washington DC, especially in this room, ”said Grenell. “I have to tell you: get substantial. Maybe it's too complicated for all of you. "
Grenell said the deal before the questioning, which President Trump, Kosovar Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić had signed shortly before in the Oval Office, came about after more than 20 years of stalemate in negotiations.
The Trump administration has messed things up, Grenell said, by making business, not politics, a priority of the talks. The tariffs were the "political sticking point" of why the parties would not come together, which he had addressed in the deal.
Other reporters from the White House press corps came to Nelson's defense. NBC News' Peter Alexander stated, "This is the first time we've had the opportunity to speak to these people." Grenell replied: "OK, but today in Kosovo and Serbia."
"Let's take some time to talk about this 21 year old edition, ”said Grenell. “I mean, 21 years. We get the same questions that are all politics. You don't understand what's going on outside of Washington, DC. People don't listen to you anymore. It's really a crisis in journalism. And I think that's because people are too young to understand topics like Kosovo and Serbia. "
Jeff Mason, White House reporter for Reuters and past president of the White House Correspondents' Association, also told Grenell his response was unacceptable.
"I don't think either of us came here to give a talk about our interview, ”Mason said.
Grenell replied: "I didn't come here to talk about anything other than Kosovo and Serbia."
A look at the agreement between Serbia and Kosovo, as posted on Twitter by Adriatik Kelmendi, CEO of Klan Kosova, shows that the global initiative was indeed part of the deal. One of the bullet points reads: "Both parties will work with the 69 countries that criminalize homosexuality to promote decriminalization."
The Washington Blade has asked the White House why support for the global initiative was included as part of the deal.
Although Grenell insisted that the briefing should focus on the Serbia-Kosovo agreement, reporters said they were not aware of the contents at the time of the briefing. When Grenell indignantly asked if reporters had read the agreement, Bloomberg News’s Justin Sink pointed out that it had not yet been made available to them. "It's out," Grenell insisted.
Amid further questions from reporters about what exactly was signed, Grenell said leaders from Kosovo and Serbia have separately "signed a letter confirming that they will work together to make this deal."
The documents signed by the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo are "99.9 percent", but Serbia also agreed to move its embassy by July next year, and Kosovo would have "mutual recognition with Israel". Trump signed a document, Grenell said, despite the fact that the United States was not a party to the deal, to "serve as a witness that this is a great deal and the United States is excited about it".
Mark Bromley, chairman of the Council for Global Equality, said he was "not surprised" that Grenell was angry at being asked about the global initiative because it was compatible with his failure to be gay and American Center for Law & Justice to join an anti-LGBTQ record.
"After Grenell claimed he was leading a global effort to decriminalize homosexuality that was nothing more than a few photo ops, he made absurd advertising jargon claiming Trump was "the most gay-friendly president in American history," said Bromley. "But his audacious pinkwashing seems to be fading lately – he didn't mention any of it in his RNC congressional speech and has now joined a homophobic law firm. This proves what we've always known: Grenell only cares about his own self-promotion and certainly is willing to undermine the interests of the LGBTI community in this process. "