US ambassador to Germany steps down after two years in Berlin

Jill PetzingerJill Petzinger, Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Yahoo Finance UK
Richard Grenell, ambassador of the United States of America. (Sven Hoppe/Picture alliance via Getty)
Richard Grenell, ambassador of the United States of America. (Sven Hoppe/Picture alliance via Getty)

Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, is set to leave his post in Berlin after just over two years, according to the German Press Agency (DPA).

DPA reported that Grenell’s deputy Robin Quinville would take over the post in Berlin on a temporary basis, according to embassy spokesman Joseph Giordono-Scholz. Quinville has been deputy chief of mission at the embassy since July 2018.

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Grenell, 53, stirred up quite some tension and made few friends in the political establishment in Berlin during his two years in the job. He aggressively pushed president Donald Trump’s foreign policy agenda in ways that were often viewed as meddling outside his diplomatic remit as an ambassador.

Around the beginning of his posting in Berlin in 2018, he gave an interview to far-right website Breitbart, saying that he wanted to “empower” anti-establishment conservatives, and wanted to work with German politicians who are “concerned about migration.”

While he later toned down his comments on that, his words provoked irritation in Berlin, with a German foreign office spokesperson telling AFP that they wanted a word with him to clarify what he meant.

A staunch Trump ally, Grenell also warned German companies to stop trading with Iran, after Trump said he would pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.

The US envoy was also openly critical of Germany’s defence contributions to NATO, which Trump has slammed on numerous occasions.

In 2019, Grenell waded into the controversial issue of Germany’s new Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia, sending a letter to German companies involved in the project in January saying that they risk US sanctions. 

He also threatened that the US could restrict intelligence sharing between Washington and Berlin if the German government allowed Chinese telecoms company Huawei to participate in the country’s 5G network buildout.

In February, Trump made Grenell acting director of national intelligence, a post that will now be filled on a permanent basis by John Ratcliffe.

It is not currently clear what Grenell’s next role will be; Politico said last week that he may be set to join Trump’s 2020 campaign.

When news that the US envoy was vacating his post first started circulating in late May, Grenell tweeted that his departure did not mean American pressure “is off.”

Richard Grenell tweet
Richard Grenell tweet

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