President Donald Trump’s newly-appointed U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, has angered officials there by signaling that he aims to act as a spokesperson for right-wing policies promoted by Trump and other European leaders—prompting some to call for his expulsion from Germany less than a month into his new role.
“If people like U.S. ambassador Richard Grenell believe they can dictate like a lord of the manor who rules in Europe and who doesn’t, they can no longer remain in Germany as a diplomat,” Sahra Wagenknecht, co-chair of the left-wing party Die Linke, told Die Welt.
In a recent interview with the far-right publication Breitbart News, formerly run by ousted Trump strategist Stephen Bannon, Grenell promoted the agenda of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, a critic of Merkel who presides over a coalition with the nativist Freedom Party and has threatened immigrants who do not “integrate” into Austrian society with financial sanctions.
Grenell referred to Kurz as a “rock star” in the interview, and explained, “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.”
“There are a lot of conservatives throughout Europe who have contacted me to say they are feeling there is a resurgence going on,” he added.
The statement suggested that Grenell intends to go well beyond the scope of normal diplomatic duties as ambassador, raising concerns both abroad and in the United States.
“What this man is doing is unheard of in international diplomacy,” Martin Schulz, the former leader of Germeny’s Social Democratic party, told the German news agency DPA.
Grenell also requested a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close Trump ally, when he was in Berlin to see German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday.
Grenell’s stated goal of strengthening right-wing movements throughout Europe follows another overreach made in the first days of his new post, when he took to Twitter to warn German companies involved in business with Iran to “wind down operations immediately” following Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.
The tweet prompted Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German ambassador to the U.S., to advise Grenell on the basics of international diplomacy.