The U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, raised eyebrows in some precincts by reportedly telling Breitbart London that he wants to empower conservatives across the European continent. This comment was part of a wide-ranging interview with the news outlet.
Although he was originally nominated by President Trump back in September 2017, Grenell was finally confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 26, 2018, shortly after lawmakers approved Mike Pompeo as U.S. secretary of state. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to the White House may have broken the logjam on Grenell’s confirmation which was opposed by all but six Democrats in the final vote.
Grenell is said to be the highest-ranking openly gay official ever in a GOP administration.
In the Breitbart interview at the ambassador’s residence in Berlin, Ric Grenell claimed that Europe is in the process of rejecting the policies advanced by what he deemed was the group-thinking political establishment.
“There are a lot of conservatives throughout Europe who have contacted me to say they are feeling there is a resurgence going on. I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders. I think there is a groundswell of conservative policies that are taking hold because of the failed policies of the left…I look across the landscape and we’ve got a lot of work to do but I think the election of Donald Trump has empowered individuals and people to say that they can’t just allow the political class to determine before an election takes place, who’s going to win and who should run.”
Grenell praised Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz as “a rockstar.“ Kurz is the head of a Euroskeptic, anti-mass immigration coalition government. Grenell went on to define conservative policies as controlling immigration, implementing tax cuts, and streamlining government bureaucracy and red tape.
Voters have ushered in other populist (whether they are conservative as the term is known here in the U.S.) governments in Hungary, Italy, Poland, and elsewhere on the European continent. Because of the European Union’s open-borders policy among other issues, right-of-center populist parties are also rapidly gaining traction in Germany, Sweden, and in other countries. In the Brexit referendum, moreover, U.K. voters decided to leave the EU.
German Chancellor Merkel is the de facto head of the EU.
Germany's foreign ministry says it will seek clarification from the US after ambassador Richard Grenell told Breitbart he hopes to "empower conservatives across Europe." https://t.co/F51XFkNSZU
— Axios (@axios) June 4, 2018
“His remarks leave room for interpretation, but they were criticized both in the United States and in Europe for politicizing diplomacy with a core U.S. ally and as a further blow to transatlantic relations,” the Washington Post reported about the Grenell interview, adding that the German government wants an explanation.
Grenell fired back on Twitter that he would never endorse any specific candidates or political parties in Europe.
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
In the aftermath of President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, which was a campaign promise, Richard Grenell created controversy when he suggested there would be consequences in U.S. markets for businesses that continue to engage in transactions with Iran. Despite the vocal disapproval from European governments, Grenell separately told Breitbart London that the business community privately has reacted positively to Trump’s decision to cancel the deal and reimpose sanctions.
“I would argue that the silent majority in Germany is just as powerful as the silent majority in the U.S…I found the business community and the people to be completely fine with it, even supportive…We’re working with the different German industry associations to identify the small and medium-size companies that want to open up a new market in the United States and turn away from Iran, so we’re trying to identify them to help them do just that.”
Under many different administrations, the U.S. State Department has long classified the Tehran government as a state-sponsor of terrorism.
With a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard, Richard Grenell was the longest-serving U.S. spokesman at the United Nations, holding that job from 2001 to 2008 in the George W. Bush administration, including working for John Bolton, now President Trump’s national security adviser, during that time.