Mean tweets about women came back to haunt Ric Grenell Wednesday during the gay nominee’s confirmation hearing to become U.S. ambassador to Germany.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) took issue with Grenell’s remarks — saying he brought it up privately with the nominee and wished to bring it up publicly — referring to the tweets in his role as a Fox News commentator prior to his nomination earlier this month for the role in the Trump administration.
Murphy said the “litany of derogatory comments about women’s personal appearances” were among the “very inflammatory things” said by the nominee, asking him if he regrets the statement and can understand the concern about the impact they’ll have on his role in Germany.
Contrite in his response, Grenell said it was “never my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings” and denied the comments were representative of his character.
“Anybody who knows me knows that I am a very caring person and very sensitive — and I also appreciate good humor,” Grenell said. “Unfortunately, there are times where what was intended to be humorous turned out to be not so humorous, and, again, that was never my intention and I regret that.”
Grenell added he views his career in “two different phases” and just one being his role as a representative of the U.S. government.
“In that capacity, I understood that when you are speaking as a U.S. official, it’s not your opinion that you are pushing, but it’s a well-thought-out U.S. policy,” Grenell said. “I can simply say that going back into the State Department, I look forward to taking on that role again where it’s well-thought-out U.S. policy, not my personal opinion.”
Murphy said he wouldn’t say aloud Grenell’s remarks, but they were directed at the appearances of Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Callista Gingrich and Rachel Maddow.
One 2011 tweet directed at Maddow, a lesbian news anchor on MSNBC, said she “needs to take a breath and put on a necklace” and another compared her look to that of pop singer Justin Bieber. One tweet directed at Gingrich questioned whether she “snaps on” her hair. At around the same time, Grenell tweeted “Hillary is starting to look like Madeleine Albright.”
Grenell, who has a history of antagonizing reporters on Twitter, has deleted and apologized for these tweets years ago during his brief tenure of several days with Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. Although some point to the tweets as the reason he didn’t last long with the campaign, others say the appointment of a gay person to the GOP campaign was nixed after objections from anti-gay activists.
Grenell didn’t hide his sexual orientation during his confirmation hearing. During his opening testimony, Grenell thanked his partner of 15 years, Matt Lashey, whom Grenell said “supported and encouraged me every step of the way.”
“I would not be able to serve the president and the American people without Matt’s commitment and help,” Grenell said.