Meddling, anyone? US envoy to Berlin wants to ‘empower’ Europe’s conservatives, hails ‘awakening’
Washington’s rookie ambassador to Germany has stood by his words about “empowering” conservatives throughout Europe – after being accused of openly interfering in the internal politics of his host country.
Richard Grenell has opened a new diplomatic can of worms, after being quoted by Breitbart London on Sunday as advocating for right-leaning governments throughout Europe.
"I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders," he told Breitbart, adding that he was overjoyed by the "European groundswell of conservative policies" that has come about because of "the failed policies of the left."
Berlin was apparently unamused by the diplomat’s nonchalant political advocacy, and a foreign ministry spokesperson confirmed on Monday that the German government had "asked the US side for clarification" regarding Grenell’s comments, and that state secretary Andreas Michaelis would re-visit the issue at a scheduled meeting with the US envoy later this week.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, said the chancellor was aware of Grenell’s undiplomatic utterances but declined to comment on them.
Twitter uproar quickly followed in the wake Grenell’s sensational Beitbart interview, with both German and US politicians condemning the US ambassador’s comments.
“I know you are still quite new at your post, but it is not part of the job description of an ambassador to interfere in the politics of his guest country,” Lars Klingbeil, general secretary of the Social Democrats, tweeted at Grenell.
I know you are still quite new at your post, but it is not part of the job description of an ambassador to interfere in the politics of his guest country, Mr @RichardGrenell#thankyouhttps://t.co/Wi5uF9WjCO— Lars Klingbeil (@larsklingbeil) June 4, 2018
US Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) expressed similar outrage on the other side of the Atlantic. “When I raised concerns to Grenell about politicizing this post, he personally assured me that once he became Ambassador he would stay out of politics. This interview is awful – Ambassadors aren’t supposed to ‘empower’ any political party overseas,” Murphy tweeted on Sunday.
When I raised concerns to Grenell about politicizing this post, he personally assured me that once he became Ambassador he would stay out of politics. This interview is awful - Ambassadors aren't supposed to "empower" any political party overseas. https://t.co/i8oOhqEk5k— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) June 3, 2018
However, Grenell defended the interview, insisting that the “idea” that he had endorsed particular candidates or parties was “ridiculous.”
“I stand by my comments that we are experiencing an awakening from the silent majority – those who reject the elites & their bubble. Led by Trump,” Grenell wrote on Twitter.
Absurd. I condemn those comments completely. Don’t put words in my mouth. The idea that I’d endorse candidates/parties is ridiculous. I stand by my comments that we are experiencing an awakening from the silent majority - those who reject the elites & their bubble. Led by Trump. https://t.co/DjSX4SL3bf— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) June 4, 2018
An outspoken Trump supporter, Grenell arrived in Berlin in early May, taking up a diplomatic post that had been vacant for 15 months.
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