Coons Says He’ll Push Schumer to Give Richard Grenell a Vote for Ambassador to Germany

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Democratic Sen. Chris Coons (Del.) said Thursday that he will go to his party's Senate leader to lobby for a vote to be held on Richard Grenell to be the U.S. ambassador to Germany.

President Donald Trump in September nominated Grenell, a veteran Republican diplomat, to serve as ambassador to Germany, but since then Democrats have blocked Grenell's nomination in the Senate. Coons told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he will go to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) to urge him to allow a vote to confirm Grenell, saying he does not know what Schumer will do.

"The last time we had this conversation, I went and checked with the ranking member of [the Senate Committee on] Foreign Relations, and he said that he did not know any longer who was holding Grenell up, that there were two senators who'd been holding him up and who'd released their hold," Coons said. "This one's dragged on far too long."

Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley (Ore.) on Thursday blocked a Republican attempt to call up the nomination of Grenell, the Washington Examiner reported.

Coons also said the nomination and confirmation process for ambassadors is failing.

"I think we have a significant problem, Hugh, in that we have more than 25 critical nations—South Korea, for example, South Africa, Germany, obviously—where we do not have an ambassador," Coons said. "And when I've traveled to countries where we don't have an ambassador, it makes a real difference in terms of the level of our relationship and their ability to effectively represent us."

The senator explained how American foreign policy is suffering from the absence of ambassadors.

"The world of diplomacy is one that really follows sort of rank order, chain of command. And in the absence of an ambassador, some places in the world, we really can't have the impact we need to," Coons said. "In South Korea, for us to not have an ambassador, given the importance of the negotiations with North Korea, I think, is a big mistake. So I've been pressing."

Coons commended Sens. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) and Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) for their work in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as chairman and ranking member, respectively.

"The Foreign Relations Committee just cleared four more ambassadors this week. I do think that Senator Corker and Senator Menendez work well together," he said. "I don't think the Foreign Relations Committee is the holdup, but the vacancy in Germany has gone on just far too long."

"I'll be glad to press for Grenell to get a vote because we shouldn't have a country as significant as Germany, we shouldn't have any country without an ambassador, but that's a major European power," Coons added.

The holdup on Grenell is continuing as Germany enacts anti-Israel measures and seeks to maintain ties with Iran, the Washington Free Beacon reported Wednesday.

The vacancy also has left the United States with little voice to combat a series of anti-Israel efforts being pursued by the German government. Trump administration insiders are becoming increasingly fed-up with the block on Grenell, telling the Free Beacon that U.S. diplomats currently helming the post have been bungling critical national security priorities, including the Iran portfolio and recent efforts by Germany to sell Tehran sensitive equipment used by the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria to produce chemical weapons.

Paul Crookston

Paul Crookston   Email Paul | Full Bio | RSS
Paul Crookston is a media analyst with the Washington Free Beacon. He was previously a Collegiate Network fellow at National Review. A 2016 graduate of Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., he served as the managing editor of the Tartan campus newspaper. He is originally from Tampa, Fla., but he still roots for Dad’s Ohio teams. His Twitter handle is @P_Crookston. He can be reached at crookston@freebeacon.com.

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