Richard Grenell, who served as the first openly gay acting director of national intelligence and is now the face of LGBTQ outreach for Trump’s re-election campaign, made a baseless charge of homophobia Thursday as he rebuked reporters for not asking about the alleged Hunter Biden emails in a campaign call.
In a conference call where the Trump campaign sought to highlight the alleged emails, which make explosive claims — with little substantiation — Hunter Biden facilitated a meeting between his dad and Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company where he served as a board member, and helped facilitate cash payments from China to his dad, Grenell refused to respond to questions not related to the subject matter.
When the time came for a question from a reporter with National Public Radio, who in fact asked Grenell whether he expects the Biden emails to come up in the upcoming presidential debate, Grenell in response asked whether she had reported on the Biden emails.
The NPR reporter started to explain she had talked about how the president has discussed the Biden emails and wrote about the Clinton emails in 2016, but Grenell amid crosstalk between the two wasn’t having it and interrupted her.
“I’m speaking, I’m speaking, don’t be homophobic,” Grenell said, echoing a line from Kamala Harris during the vice presidential debate with Mike Pence. “Don’t interrupt, don’t interrupt, don’t interrupt. I’m speaking.”
Grenell said he thinks it would be “quite important” for NPR to coordinate among its staff for coverage of the Biden emails, although he acknowledged the statement from the media outlet on Thursday declaring it won’t “waste readers’ time” about them.
“The Biden team is not talking about it and they’re trying to use this Russian disinformation excuse,” Grenell said. “Don’t you think…that it’s pretty important to confront whether or not the use of Russia disinformation as an excuse for these Biden emails is important?”
The NPR reporter replied she’s “feeding this information to my colleagues who are writing this up,” repeating her question about whether the emails will come up in the debate. When Grenell asked for verification NPR would write about the story, the reporter repeated she has two colleagues “eagerly awaiting my transcript of this call.”
“OK, great,” Grenell said. “So, we’ll share with them all the research that we’ve done, and hopefully encourage them to do their own.”
Many media outlets have declined to cover the emerging story, citing insufficient corroboration for alleged emails found on a laptop at an Apple Store in Delaware. Serious questions remain as to whether the emails are part of a Russian disinformation campaign, which would be consistent with media reports Burisma was hacked in January. John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence for President Trump, has denied the emails are part of a foreign disinformation campaign.
Meanwhile, the Biden campaign has said no such meeting between the former vice president and the head of Burisma is found on his official schedule, but hasn’t outright denied the meeting took place. Tony Bobulinsk, who has said he’s a former business partner of Hunter Biden, has gone on the record to say he was a recipient of the Biden email to affirm their accuracy and said the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee has reached out to him.
The Washington Blade joined the reporters’ call to ask Grenell what evidence he had the Trump Pride event he’s hosting in swing states, most recently a widely panned event in Tampa with Tiffany Trump, was having a positive impact on motivating voters. The Blade, however, wasn’t called on the conference call to ask a question despite dialing in.