Donald Trump still thinks he is the shadow president. On Nov. 11, he released a statement to his Save America PAC email list, in which he revealed he had sent Richard “Ric” Grenell, his former Acting Director of National Intelligence, former Ambassador to Germany and former Special Presidential Envoy for Serbia and Kosovo Peace Negotiations, back to Serbia and Kosovo to represent him and the U.S.
Grenell was the highest ranked out gay official in the Trump administration.
In the email Trump said, “The agreements my administration brokered are historic and should not be abandoned, many lives are at stake. The region is too important and the people have waited too long for this work to be cast aside…. Today, my Envoy Ambassador Ric Grenell visited the Kosovo-Serbia border to highlight this important agreement.”
Trump’s actions — and Grenell’s week-long visit — raised questions of violation of the Logan Act. The Logan Act is a U.S. federal law that criminalizes negotiation by unauthorized American citizens with foreign governments. The act is intended to prevent unauthorized negotiations and negotiators from undermining the elected government’s position, in this instance the Biden administration.
Grenell, who has no position in the Biden administration, traveled through the region with stops in Tirana, Pristina and Belgrade, beginning Nov. 8.
In Tirana, Grenell met with Ilir Meta, the President of Albania, Nov. 9. “People are amazing,” Grenell said on social media, inviting Americans to visit the Albanian capital. The visit was headlined in an Albanian Daily News article “President Meta Holds Meeting with Richard Grenell.”
On Twitter, Meta said of Grenell’s visit, “It is always a pleasure to have Richard Grenell in Albania and in my office. His commitment to supporting the further strengthening of relations and cooperation between Albania and the United States is highly appreciated.”
In a press conference he held Nov. 11 at the Merdare border crossing between Serbia and Kosovo, Grenell said, “People of the Western Balkans deserve American leadership.”
Leadership Grenell insists the Biden administration is not providing.
Grenell said, “[U.S. Secretary of State Antony] Blinken won’t do the job. The American administration needs someone who can walk into the Oval Office and do things.”
In a 15-minute speech, Grenell discussed a variety of issues, and voiced his frustration over the lack of implementation by President Biden of what he and Trump both termed a “historic Serbia-Kosovo economic normalization agreement” during the Trump administration.
Grenell asserted that the Biden administration “owes the region” more than “lip service” over economic agreements and said, “Stop the politics, let’s create jobs.”
Biden has been focused on job creation in the U.S. in response to the foundering economy left by the Trump presidency and the pandemic.
While Grenell insisted that his press conference at the behest of the former president was as a “private citizen,” his actions and words were as the envoy Trump had requested he be. “I come because we are frustrated,” Grenell said to reporters at the border.
Grenell said, “Many of the Trump administration and many Americans are frustrated because we saw a historic agreement, an economic one, which we agreed on for the people of Kosovo and the people of Serbia is not respected.”
Grenell also said, “Too many young people from Kosovo and Serbia moved to Germany, Hungary, Poland because they couldn’t get good jobs.”
But stateside, Grenell’s actions were viewed as a cross between outright buffoonery and violations of the Logan Act. MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough commented on Trump’s choice of envoy on his Nov. 12 show. Scarborough said Grenell was someone he “wouldn’t even send to 7-Eleven to get a Slurpee, let alone to Kosovo-Serbia.”
Scarborough said, “Former President Trump has been saying for months that he should be the actual president, as you know, and now he’s taken his fantasy a step further.”
Scarborough said that Trump is “a private citizen” and added that because Trump is not president, Grenell “is not there in any official capacity.”
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia has refused to recognize Kosovo as a separate country. The two countries fought a war between 1998-1999, and relations have been tense ever since. Both countries have attempted to normalize those relations in order to join the European Union.
In response to the Trump email and Grenell’s visit, a White House official who declined to be named, told PGN what they had previously told Real Clear Politics, “Outside of his very active imagination, Donald Trump is no longer President and doesn’t have any ‘envoy ambassadors’ representing the United States.”
Most recently Grenell has gotten into Twitter spats with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. Grenell has also supported the right-wing “Let’s Go Brandon!” euphemism for “F*ck Joe Biden” as patriotic.
Grenell also called out Eric Gordy, a Senior Lecturer in Southeast European Politics at the School of Slavonic and East European Politics, at University College London and author of several books on the region as a non-reader.
On Nov. 15 Gordy tweeted to Grenell, “Somebody might want to be reminded of the text of the Logan Act. Here it is: https://law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/953. You’re welcome.”
Of his trip, Grenell said, “It’s the right thing to do.”