International

German opposition politician calls for US ambassador to be expelled

A top politician in one of Germany's opposition parties on Tuesday called for U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell to be expelled from the country.

Wolfgang Kubicki, deputy chairman of the Free Democratic Party, said Grenell repeatedly "interfering" with Germany's sovereignty should be enough for Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to remove him, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

"Any U.S. diplomat who acts like a high commissioner of an occupying power must learn that our tolerance also knows its limits," said Kubicki, who is also one of five deputy Speakers of Germany's Parliament.

Kubicki's comments come after Grenell called Germany's spending on NATO insufficient earlier Tuesday.

Grenell has been a controversial figure in Germany. He was previously criticized for demanding that Berlin stop the creation of Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, and threatening firms involved in the project with sanctions.

He also found himself at the center of a firestorm after giving an interview to right-leaning Breitbart News in June 2018, in which he said he wanted to "empower other conservatives throughout Europe."

 

The German Foreign Ministry at the time quickly requested that Grenell clarify his remarks, a top lawmaker from Chancellor Angela Merkel's party said he was at risk of becoming a "highly ineffective" envoy and a cadre of left-leaning politicians demanded that his credentials be withdrawn.

Carsten Schneider, caucus manager of the Social Democrats within the Parliament, called the ambassador a "complete diplomatic failure."

"Mr. Grenell damages trans-Atlantic relations with his repeated clumsy provocations," he added, according to Deutsche Welle.

A member of Merkel's conservative alliance asked for Grenell to be more restrained.

"If one keeps an overall view, many comments made are more coherent than those of the American ambassador, if he thinks he has to comment on something every week," said Michael Grosse-Brömer, according to the German broadcaster.

A spokesperson for the State Department told The Hill that German politicians are free to express their opinions about Grenell.

"Germany, like the United States, is a free country with a free press. Politicians, pundits, and the media are entitled to share their opinions as part of the political process. That is one of the fantastic and unifying qualities of U.S. and German society," they said.

"Ambassador Grenell is the president's personal representative to Germany. He's there to represent the United States."

Updated at 9:02 a.m. on Wednesday

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