BERLIN – It’s no exaggeration to say that the German establishment and media cannot stand Donald Trump. And that means the president’s ambassador in Berlin is not going win any popularity contests. In fact, Richard Grenell may be the most unpopular US ambassador to Germany since the Second World War. But it seems Trump’s man in Berlin could not care less. He’s here to do a job and that job is to fix what some call a dysfunctional transatlantic relationship.
The Man the Germans call “Little Trump”
Those in Germany who don’t like him – and there are a lot of them – call Richard Grenell “the little Trump” because he believes in his message, he believes in President Trump, and he gives the Germans the undiplomatic truth.
We interviewed Grenell at the US ambassador’s residence in Berlin.
CBN News Senior Reporter Dale Hurd: “You’ve had some rough treatment from the German media. They don’t like you.”
Ambassador Richard Grenell: “I would say there’s some that do but it doesn’t bother me. I’m really focused on a job and I recognize that in the short term, in the immediacy, that changing the status quo is always messy that people get comfortable and they don’t want to change the status quo. So, I’ve got a good perspective. I’m a cancer survivor and I have to tell you that when you wake up and you’ve defeated cancer and you’re looking at life in a different way on a daily basis, bad media coverage or critical media coverage or complainers from the side. That doesn’t bother me.”
Persona Non-Grata: Germans Wanted Grenell Expelled
The German hostility to Grenell reached such a level that a German lawmaker asked the government to declare the American Ambassador “persona non-grata” and expel him from the country. But the former regular on Fox News’ “Red Eye” program and advisor to four American UN ambassadors, Grenell has made it clear he’s not going to be a traditional, quiet ambassador.
Grenell: “Well, first of all, they’re always surprised that I’m a Trump supporter, which is quite funny to think that an ambassador wouldn’t be. So, yes I think the coverage is inherently an assumption that an ambassador is supposed to give parties and not supposed to defend their country and not supposed to push forward. “
On Grenell’s Agenda: Germany’s “Broken” Military
On Grenell’s hard-charging agenda is to get one of the world’s wealthiest nations to stop being so cheap about its defense and increase German military spending to 2% of its GDP as required by NATO. The Germans are still not even close to meeting the requirement.
Hurd: “Why is it so difficult for a rich nation like Germany to meet its NATO obligation?”
Grenell: “It’s a great question. So, this is really a demand of NATO that if you’re going to be a NATO member you need to have a working military; you need to have helicopters and transport planes and a military that works. So, what we’ve seen in Germany is that they’ve got a broken military system. And if they’re going to be a part of NATO, then they have to abide by the NATO rules.”
Grenell Feels the Heat on His First Day as Ambassador
Grenell really irked the Germans on day one as ambassador, when he tweeted out a warning to German companies to not violate US sanctions against Iran.
Grenell: “Companies are free to do business inside Iran. We’re not telling them that they can’t. What we are saying is, if you do business in Iran you also can’t do business in the United States.”
In a nation that all but worshipped Barack Obama, most Germans do not like Donald Trump. Only 10 percent of Germans say they have confidence in President Trump to do the right thing. And that makes Grenell’s job even harder.
The “Messy Work” of Reforming a “Dysfunctional” Relationship
Hurd: “Would you be willing to admit that the trans-Atlantic relationship has been weakened because of some of the tough talk President Trump has used with the Europeans?”
Grenell: “No, I don’t think so. I think that the trans-Atlantic relationship has been strengthened by President Trump’s talk, his directness, even his tweets because what’s happening is that we’re stopping a slide of the status quo.”
And if the German-American relationship is in need of an intervention, Richard Grenell seems like the man for the job.
Grenell: “I make no apologies for pushing America. I worked for the American taxpayer. I work for the American government. The American people and for President Trump. I don’t work for the Germans. I look at the relationship with the Europeans and specifically the Germans as one in need of reform, and we’re doing the messy work of reform.”