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Ric Grenell, Fierce Trump Loyalist, Seeks Cabinet Job as Reward

U.S.Ric Grenell, Fierce Trump Loyalist, Seeks Cabinet Job as Reward

Richard Grenell’s quest to be secretary of state in a second Trump administration began late on Election Day in 2020, when the defeated president dispatched loyalists to run shambolic “stop the steal” operations in battleground states.

President Donald J. Trump tapped Mr. Grenell — his combative former ambassador to Germany, acting national intelligence chief and special envoy to the Balkans — to fly by private plane to Nevada, where Mr. Grenell ensconced himself, his dog Lola, lawyers and a crew of activists in a suite at the Venetian Resort, which served as the group’s war room in Las Vegas. In a days-long spectacle, the Trump team filed a lawsuit and aired false accusations of fraud, including one wrongly implicating hundreds of members of the military.

It was all a sham. Mr. Grenell told the team in the war room, two G.O.P. operatives recalled, that the Nevada vote was not, in fact, stolen. The operatives, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal from Mr. Grenell, said he told the team that the goal was simply to “throw spaghetti at the wall” — the operatives described Mr. Grenell making a theatrical tossing gesture as he spoke — to distract the media from calling Nevada while the election battle in neighboring Arizona played out.

In retrospect, one of the operatives said, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol should have subpoenaed everyone in the room, including the operative himself.

Mr. Grenell declined to be interviewed on the record, though he said in an email that he was going to “do what I want with the final product to correct the record and show the mistakes.”

This article is based on interviews with 40 people, including nearly three dozen Republicans. Most asked for anonymity because they did not want to harm their chances of roles in a future Trump administration or to unleash the wrath of Mr. Grenell, who frequently savages those he disagrees with on social media. One Republican former operative said that after a recent disagreement, Mr. Grenell combed five years’ worth of the operative’s tweets to fuel an online attack that lasted for weeks.

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