Trump Appoints Controversial Loyalist Grenell to Holocaust Memorial Council

Richard Grenell, who served as U.S. ambassador to Germany, has been criticized for endangering German Jews by praising the 'resurgence' of Europe's 'anti-establishment' populists

Ben Samuels
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Richard Grenell smiles during a meeting at the Serbia Palace in Belgrade, September 22, 2020.Credit: Darko Vojinovic/AP
Ben Samuels

WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday named three of his supporters to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, including Richard Grenell, the former acting director of national intelligence. 

Grenell, who also served as U.S. ambassador to Germany from 2018-2020, has been one of Trump’s most vocal supporters. He drew criticism across the German political spectrum after an interview with right-wing website Breitbart News.

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Grenell told Breitbart that he attributed the right's groundswell across Europe to the “failed policies of the left,” adding: “I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders.”

He described himself as a big fan of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the head of the conservative People’s Party who shared power with the far-right Freedom Party in Vienna.

Trump also appointed Martin Oliner, co-president of the right-wing Religious Zionists of America, and Susan Levine to the council, days after he appointed Rudy Guiliani’s son, a lawyer in the Office of the White House Counsel, and his personal “body man” to the 55-member council, which governs and funds the Holocaust Museum on the National Mall.

Grenell was one of the more vociferous Trump supporters alleging voter fraud, demonstrating in Las Vegas immediately after the election and making the baseless claim of “illegal votes.”

Charlotte Knoblauch, former World Jewish Congress’s Vice-President and Commissioner for Holocaust Memory who also served as head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, wrote in Haaretz that Grenell endangered German Jews and democracy by praising the "resurgence" of Europe’s "anti-establishment" populists, in a country where the virulently antisemitic, populist far-right has returned to parliament. 

Grenell has long been a favorite of Trump, with many speculating that he would have been a contender for a senior-level cabinet position if Trump had been re-elected for a second term.

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