Senior Republican calls out Trump on criticism of Germany

Senior Republican calls out Trump on criticism of Germany
© Greg Nash

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGrand Staircase-Escalante: A conservation triumph is headed for future as playground for industry McConnell tamps down any talk of Kavanaugh withdrawal GOP offers to ban cameras from testimony of Kavanaugh accuser MORE (Utah), the most senior Republican in the Senate, called out President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE on Wednesday for his harsh criticisms of NATO ally Germany.

Hatch called Trump’s comments out of line and overly critical.

“I don’t agree with that,” Hatch said in reaction to Trump’s declaration that Germany is “totally controlled by Russia” because it imports so much natural gas from Russia.

Hatch called Germany of the U.S.'s “strongest allies” and praised Germans as “a very strong people.”

Hatch also praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel and said she made a very good impression on him during a meeting last week in Berlin.

“I have really the highest opinion of her and those who are with her,” he said. “I think sometimes you can be a little too critical of the other counterparts. I don’t think we should be critical. She’s really good.”

It was strong pushback from one of Trump’s strongest allies on Capitol Hill.

Hatch played a central role, as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, in passing Trump’s signature tax-cut bill last year.

On Monday, Hatch vowed to “lift heaven and Earth” to ensure that Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, is confirmed by the Senate.

But the Utah Republican said he thinks the president went too far in slamming Germany at a breakfast meeting in Brussels ahead of a high-profile NATO summit.

Trump criticized Germany for not meeting its NATO spending target while “paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia” to import oil and gas.

Hatch, however, vouched for Merkel’s leadership.

“I really like her. I think she’s one of the great women leaders of this world and she was very gracious to us,” he said of his time with her in Berlin.