Trump's Germany Envoy Defuses Outrage Over Political Comments

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s new envoy to Germany expressed regret over the reaction to his pledge to “empower” European conservative groups, smoothing over the comments in a meeting with the country’s Foreign Ministry.

Ambassador Richard Grenell, a Trump loyalist and former Fox News contributor, told officials he didn’t want to be associated with extreme right-wing forces in Germany, the ministry said, citing comments he made Wednesday at his first official introduction to Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Michaelis and other officials.

A month into his new post, Grenell triggered a political storm in Germany this week after telling Breitbart News that he wanted to embrace a “resurgence” of conservatism across Europe in response to “failed policies of the left.” Some politicians, including the governing Social Democrats, called for his expulsion for interfering in local politics.

Michaelis told Grenell that the reaction showed how highly Germans value the relationship with the U.S., the ministry said, adding that Grenell, 51, expressed the desire to create the conditions for close cooperation. The U.S. embassy said on Twitter that there had been a “good discussion” but declined further comment.

‘Elitist Crowd’

It was the second time political Berlin has bristled at Grenell’s Trump-style diplomacy. On May 9, hours after he started his ambassadorship and coinciding with Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear accord, Grenell said on Twitter that German companies should immediately wind down operations in Iran.

Grenell said in the Breitbart interview that Trump’s victory in the 2016 U.S. election was an inspiration to the European right against what he called “group-think of a very small elitist crowd” in politics. In a follow-up Twitter post, he pushed back against criticism, saying the notion that he sought to endorse candidates or parties was “ridiculous.”

A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, Heather Nauert, said on Tuesday that ambassadors are free to express their opinions.

Grenell has made his mark in U.S. Republican politics, serving during the administration of former President George W. Bush as spokesman for U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations, including John Bolton, who is now Trump’s national security adviser.

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