Since Donald Trump became president, after a campaign in which he repeatedly mocked and denounced German Chancellor Angela Merkel for accepting Muslim refugees from war-torn Syria, relations between the U.S. and its longtime ally have taken a chilly turn.
Economists warn that Trump‘s plans to impose tariffs on goods from the European Union and his threat to impose tariffs on German automobiles may touch off a trade war.
But State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert reassured reporters that the two countries have “a very strong relationship.” She noted that Tuesday was the 71st anniversary of the speech by Secretary of State George Marshall introducing the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Western Europe.
But she also mentioned that Wednesday marked the anniversary of D-Day, the invasion of German-occupied France during World War II — not exactly a high point in German-American relations.
Her remarks were meant to address the controversy over U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell, who caused a stir this week with an interview to Breitbart.com in which he vowed to try to “empower” populist conservatives in Europe, many of whom loathe Merkel. “Ambassadors have a right to express their opinion,” she said.
Members of Germany’s government did not take kindly to Grenell’s remarks, with some questioning whether he could continue to serve as an “effective and workable ambassador.”
Merkel herself has yet to comment on these latest ripples in that relationship, but an excerpt from former Obama aide Ben Rhodes’s forthcoming book, “The World As It Is,” makes the provocative point that the German chancellor’s decision to seek a fourth term was partly in reaction to Trump’s election.
“She’s all alone,” Obama said of Merkel, according to Rhodes.
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