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Trump's Envoy to Germany Aims to Empower Europe's Far Right

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell. (YouTube screen grab)

From Sweden to Greece to Poland and Hungary, neofascism is on the rise across Europe, and at least one Trump administration official appears bent on seeing its proponents occupy the halls of power. In an exclusive interview with Breitbart London, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell intimated he would work to unseat Germany’s existing conservative government.

“There are a lot of conservatives throughout Europe who have contacted me to say they are feeling there is a resurgence going on,” he told Breitbart’s Chris Tomlinson. “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.”

While the statement might appear benign on its face, Germany’s parliament is already controlled by the center-right Christian Democratic Union; the party’s leader, Angela Merkel, has served as the country’s chancellor since 2005. As Vox’s Zach Beauchamp observes, the remarks “[suggest] that Grenell views his job not merely as representing America’s policies to the German government but also working to actually strengthen German—and other European—factions that he and the Trump administration approve.”

The one-time Republican operative also mentioned that he is a “big fan” of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, calling him a “rock star.” The chairman of the Austrian People’s Party, Kurz has enforced a ban on the use of burqas in public and opposed the resettlement of refugees within the nation’s borders, among other xenophobic policies.

Grenell’s interview has sparked an uproar in the Bundestag, with German officials demanding he clarify his comments. As of this writing, the Trump appointee has yet to do so.

“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,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Ct., tweeted Monday. “This interview is awful—Ambassadors aren’t supposed to ’empower’ any political party overseas.”

A former spokesman for George W. Bush’s ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, Grenell has a long history of provocation. According to the Advocate, “Grenell once tweeted that Rachel Maddow ‘needs to take a breath and put on a necklace.” … Other women he insulted included Calista Gringrich, whom he accused of having hair that she ‘snaps on.’ ” At the time of his confirmation, several Democrats voiced their concern about Grenell’s ability to work with Merkel, Germany’s first woman chancellor.

This latest controversy couldn’t come at a worse time. The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) made huge gains in the 2017 elections, winning 88 of a possible 630 seats to become the country’s third largest political party. (Over the weekend, its lead official attempted to downplay the Holocaust, calling it a “speck of bird shit in more than 1,000 years of successful German history.”)

Meanwhile, the anti-immigrant Lega (formerly Lega Nord) has ascended in Italy after forming a coalition with the Five-Star Movement—a development that has delighted former White House adviser and self-styled Leninist Steve Bannon.

Grenell’s remarks offer just the latest reminder where this administration’s true sympathies lie.

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Jacob Sugarman
Managing Editor
Jacob Sugarman is the acting managing editor at Truthdig. He is a graduate of the Arthur L. Carter Institute of Journalism whose writing has appeared in Salon, AlterNet and Tablet, among other…
Jacob Sugarman

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