The German government on Monday pressed for further explanation of partisan and inflammatory remarks by America’s ambassador to the country.
“We have asked the U.S. side for clarification, and whether (the remarks) were made as reported,” a spokesperson for the German foreign ministry told reporters at a regularly scheduled press conference, according to Reuters. (The Associated Press and Washington Post translated the remark as the government seeking “clarification on whether the statements were actually made in the form they were given.”)
U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell told Breitbart News on Sunday that he “absolutely want[s] to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders.” He cited “failed policies of the left” for “a groundswell” of conservative policies in Europe.
In a separate Breitbart piece, Grenell was quoted as saying that German Chancellor Angela Merkel “has suffered politically” as a result of her refugee policy, which he said led to “a lot of political concern in the campaign about chain migration.”
He even offered his support of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, a critic of Merkel’s who formed a coalition government last year with the far-right Austrian Freedom Party.
Reuters noted Monday that, according to the German outlet Der Spiegel’s website, Grenell had invited Kurz to lunch at America’s embassy in Berlin during an upcoming visit. A spokesperson for the Austrian government confirmed the invite to Reuters.
“Like many others, I have taken note of this,” Merkel said of the lunch plans at a separate press conference, according to Reuters.
German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas is a member of the Social Democratic Party, to Merkel’s left. The deputy parliamentary leader of that party, Rolf Muetzenich, told Reuters: “Clearly the U.S. ambassador sees himself as an extension of a right-wing conservative world movement.”
Metin Hakverdi, another Social Democrat, was quoted condemning the interview in the Guardian: “In the past, Germany was fortunate to have had great US ambassadors who built bridges and did not do party politics.”
“As a member of the SPD, a left party with a long proud legacy of fighting, together with the United States, both Nazis and communists, I am irritated to hear from ambassador Grenell about our allegedly failed policies,” he added. “US Senator Chris Murphy said rightly that ambassadors are not supposed to ‘empower’ political parties. Ambassador Grenell is new on his post and I hope this irritation will not be repeated.”
Grenell hasn’t backed down on Twitter, where he is an active poster.
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