Donald Trump’s ambassador to Germany has suggested he will intervene in European politics to “empower conservatives”, in comments that have been criticised as going far beyond the traditional remit of a diplomat.
“There are a lot of conservatives throughout Europe who have contacted me to say they are feeling there is a resurgence going on,” ambassador Richard Grenell told the far-right publication Breitbart.
As Slovenia became the latest European democracy to elevate a politician espousing a populist form of conservatism, Mr Grenell said he wanted to “empower other conservatives throughout Europe”.
“I think there is a groundswell of conservative policies that are taking hold because of the failed policies of the left,” Mr Grenell said.
Chris Murphy, a Connecticut senator who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted that he found Mr Grenell’s Breitbart interview “awful” to read.
“When I raised concerns to Grenell about politicising this post, he personally assured me that once he became Ambassador he would stay out of politics,” he said.
“Ambassadors aren’t supposed to ‘empower’ any political party overseas.”
An anti-establishment message intertwined with hostility to immigration helped propel Mr Trump to victory – themes that have reverberated through a string of European elections. Mr Grenell cited that precedent as helping to inform his mandate.
“I look across the landscape and we’ve got a lot of work to do, but I think the election of Donald Trump has empowered individuals and people to say that they can’t just allow the political class to determine before an election takes place, who’s going to win and who should run”, Mr Grenell said.
He offered praise for Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, calling him a “rock star”. The young leader of the conservative Austrian People’s Party has formed a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party.
The news organisation that ran the exclusive interview with Mr Grenell has itself helped to nourish the same political forces the ambassador said he would cultivate.
Breitbart became a force in American politics through its rejection of mainstream Republicans and its focus on illegal immigration. Its former chairman Steve Bannon helped instil those themes in the Trump presidential campaign, for which he was key strategic architect, and then in the White House.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies