National Security

GOP Aides: Trump Nom for German Ambassador ‘Dead on Arrival’

Col. Douglas Macgregor under fire for anti-Semitic comments

Douglas Macgregor
Douglas Macgregor

The Trump administration's nominee to assume a critical ambassadorship in Germany is "dead on arrival," according to three senior Republican congressional aides who pointed to Douglas Macgregor's insinuation that a cadre of American Jews are manipulating U.S. foreign policy.

President Trump tapped the retired Army colonel to fill the vacant ambassador position in July. Macgregor has since come under fire for his suggestion in 2012 during an interview with the Daily Bell that "neocons" are "making decisions in Washington that in their minds are beneficial to a foreign power and are not necessarily good for the American people or the United States."

Senior congressional officials and Trump administration insiders said that several Republicans would vote against the Macgregor nomination, a fact that would likely scuttle his chances. "Although Colonel Macgregor was only nominated a few weeks ago, even a cursory view of his comments makes it clear this nomination will not move forward," a senior staffer to a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said.

The nomination, said a second GOP aide, is "dead on arrival. Anti-Semites and isolationists are not confirmable."

A third aide called the nomination a "mistake."

"He can't get confirmed, because Democrats say he's a racist and Republicans say he's to the left of Joe Biden," said the source, who also spoke only on background. "If he was confirmed that'd be worse, because he'd undo all the good work from the last few years of splitting Germany away from Russia, China, and Iran."

Macgregor is a familiar face to many Americans due to his frequent appearances on Fox News's Tucker Carlson Tonight. But several American Jewish groups—including the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee (AJC), and Center for Combating Anti-Semitism—have also raised concerns about the nomination.

AJC CEO David Harris petitioned Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to withdraw Macgregor’s nomination as a result of his rhetoric. The organization, Harris wrote, is "disturbed by Col. Macgregor’s remarks on ‘neocons’ and their supposed ‘unconditional support for whatever the Israeli government wants to do.'"

At issue is Macgregor’s claim that a group of powerful Jews are pushing the United States to support Israel unconditionally and in a manner that is detrimental to the United States. "They operate in a variety of settings in the government and in the media, and they support or advocate, for all intents and purposes, unconditional support for whatever the Israeli government wants to do. They are no means the majority and they are by no means representative of what I would call Americans who happen to be Jewish," Macgregor told the Daily Bell website in 2012.

American Jewish groups are also raising questions about Macgregor's 2018 statement suggesting that Germany's atonement for the Holocaust is overkill.

"There's sort of a sick mentality that says that generations after generations must atone sins of what happened in 13 years of German history and ignore the other 1,500 years of Germany," Macgregor said in a 2018 interview. "And Germany played a critical role in central Europe in terms of defending and preserving Western civilization. So I think that's, that's the problem."

Macgregor has also downplayed the threats posed by both China and Iran.

In May 2019, just days after Iran attacked commercial vessels near the Strait of Hormuz, Macgregor said "there's no evidence that Iran wants to attack us." He downplayed the threat posed by China as the coronavirus began to spread across the globe and the communist government spread lies about its origin and potential harm.

"China's economic power—its ability to influence and shape markets—is a threat to some extent," Macgregor told Sky News in February. "We don't feel any threat, any genuine threat, in my judgement at all. If you look at China's nuclear power, they have roughly 300-350 nuclear weapons, and they haven't added to those.… I don't see China as an aggressive, expansionist military power, and so I frankly don't sign on for that particular interpretation."

Macgregor would replace Richard Grenell, who used the post to increase economic sanctions on Iran and push Berlin to cut ties with Iranian businesses and support the Trump administration’s international efforts to isolate Tehran, including at the United Nations.