In Washington, Senator Christopher S. Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, called the interview “awful,” insisting that Mr. Grenell had pledged that he would “stay out of politics” once he was appointed. “Ambassadors aren’t supposed to ‘empower’ any political party overseas,” Mr. Murphy said on Twitter.
Ms. Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said the German chancellor had taken note of Mr. Grenell’s interview, but he declined to comment.
On Monday, Mr. Grenell sought to walk back his comments, though only up to a point.
“The idea that I’d endorse candidates/parties is ridiculous,” Mr. Grenell wrote on Twitter. “I stand by my comments that we are experiencing an awakening from the silent majority — those who reject the elites & their bubble.”
In fact, Mr. Grenell did praise Austria’s young chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, as a “rock star” of the right in the Breitbart interview. Mr. Kurz rose to power as foreign minister by criticizing Ms. Merkel’s open-door immigration policies, and banded together with Balkan nations to put a halt to the practice of waving illegal migrants over national borders.
A spokesman for Mr. Kurz, Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, said the Austrian chancellor would meet with Mr. Grenell next week, when he to visit Berlin for talks with Ms. Merkel and other German leaders. “In times such as these, it is important to keep in touch with the U.S. president’s closest confidants, especially on issues such as trade policy and trans-Atlantic relations,” he said.
The U.S. Embassy said the meeting had been arranged at Mr. Kurz’s request.
If recent elections are any indication, conservatives in Europe seem to be doing fine without Mr. Grenell’s help. Last week, Italy swore in a euroskeptic, anti-immigrant government, and a pro-Europe government in Spain suddenly collapsed. Over the weekend, voters in Slovenia returned a populist, once-disgraced former prime minister to office on his pledge to put the country’s needs first.