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Former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who also recently served a stint as acting director of national intelligence, clapped back at former U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) after she criticized him as inept.
McCaskill, who was defeated in 2018 by then-state Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican, was responding to back-and-forth between Grenell and retired U.S. Army Lt. General Mark Hertling, a national security analyst for CNN, over disagreements regarding the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw some American forces from Germany.
“Of all the sycophants and unqualified folks surrounding Trump, why do I find this guy particularly repugnant? Because he was given real jobs and didn’t have a clue?” McCaskill wrote.
“Ummm, you voted for me. Or was that because you had an upcoming election and wanted to hoodwink the people of Missouri into thinking you weren’t a partisan?!” Grenell noted in response, including a screenshot of McCaskill’s “Yea” vote when the former acting DNI and diplomat was confirmed by the Senate in April 2018.
In a lengthy Twitter thread, Hertling, who once commanded U.S. forces in Europe, criticized the administration’s decision to withdraw some 12,000 troops from Germany over the course of the coming years.
“Commander, I am sickened by this decision and explanation,” Hertling wrote. “It is not tied to any strategic advantage, and in fact is counterproductive to showing strength in Europe.
First, what is obvious to me – having served 12 years in Germany and having participated in the last force structure change from 2004-2011, this is not a "strategic" move…it is specifically a directed personal insult from Trump to our great & very supportive ally Germany.
— Mark Hertling (@MarkHertling) July 29, 2020
“First, what is obvious to me – having served 12 years in Germany and having participated in the last force structure change from 2004-2011, this is not a ‘strategic’ move…it is specifically a directed personal insult from Trump to our great & very supportive ally Germany,” he added.
Hertling also claimed that the president’s decision is “a gift to Russian expansionism and Putin’s plan,” which appears to be a reference to a long-debunked Democrat talking point that Trump is a ‘stooge’ for the Russian leader, President Vladimir Putin.
In response, Grenell noted that 24,000 U.S. troops would remain in Germany and that “times change.”
24k US troops remain in Germany.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) July 30, 2020
“Threats are different and constantly changing. We are grateful that @realDonaldTrump is willing to question the Washington status quo arguments,” he tweeted.
“While being aware of how many will stay & probably more aware than @RichardGrenell of the threat changes in Europe, this action is not part of a strategy or a threat assessment,” Hertling replied. “And it damages both our national security and our alliances.”
While being aware of how many will stay & probably more aware than @RichardGrenell of the threat changes in Europe, this action is not part of a strategy or a threat assessment.
And it damages both our national security and our alliances. https://t.co/YVdOdVJRsY
— Mark Hertling (@MarkHertling) July 30, 2020
“It may not be your assessment but it was planned and will be implemented by the Pentagon. Times change,” Grenell added — which drew McCaskill’s response.
It may not be your assessment but it was planned and will be implemented by the Pentagon.
Times change. https://t.co/x7r4IzpFWr
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) July 30, 2020
President Trump has consistently pushed Germany and the rest of NATO to increase their contributions to the legacy security alliance, formed at the outset of the Cold War to oppose the Warsaw Pact, a similar security umbrella led by the former Soviet Union.
According to NATO bylaws, countries are required to spend 2 percent of their GDP on their militaries, but most member countries have not done so for decades, including Germany — Europe’s most prosperous country.
Also, the Trump administration has expressed exasperation over German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s partnering with Russia on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, which is nearly complete. The project is designed to deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany, which some defense analysts say could be used as leverage against NATO and Berlin by Moscow during times of crisis.
Last month, The New York Times reported that the pipeline is 94 percent complete and that the Trump administration has again ratcheted up pressure on Merkel to drop the project.
In mid-July, the State Department began considering implementing punitive measures against investors and other business partners involved in the pipeline’s construction.
The measures are “a clear warning to companies” that “aiding and abetting Russia’s malign influence projects will not be tolerated,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters. “Get out now, or risk the consequences.”
“When Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia,” Trump told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of a summit in Brussels in July 2018.
“We’re supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia. We’re protecting Germany, we’re protecting France, we’re protecting all of these countries. And then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they’re paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia,” the president continued.
“So we’re supposed to protect you against Russia and you pay billions of dollars to Russia and I think that’s very inappropriate,” he added.
Trump signed legislation in December that calls for sanctions against companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 project.
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