It is no secret that President Donald Trump has an affinity for the populist movements gaining steam across Europe, but his actions and tweets indicate he might be actively seeking to destabilize the already fragile government in Germany.
As The New York Times noted Monday, Trump chose to insert himself via Twitter into the tense immigration situation facing German leadership, throwing in a few falsehoods in the process.
“The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter, before falsely claiming that crime in Germany had risen because of immigration.
“He’s quite clearly trying to split Europe,” said Jiri Pehe, the director of New York University’s campus in Prague, and a former senior aide to the first president of the Czech Republic.
But it’s more than his tweets: Trump’s pick for ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, made comments earlier this month that drew ire from both countries.
Mr. Grenell, Mr. Trump’s new ambassador to Germany, voiced his desire to buttress the European right in an interview with Breitbart News, a far-right website once closely associated with Mr. Trump’s former senior adviser, Stephen K. Bannon.
“[T]here is certainly an increasing body of evidence that Trump and his representatives are trying to find ways of strengthening those right-wing forces in Europe that oppose the E.U. playing a strong foreign policy role,” said [Jeffrey] Rathke, deputy director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.
Merkel has faced a mutiny, as the Times puts it, from her interior minister, Horst Seehofer, who is an immigration hardliner and wants to see a drastic clamp down on Germany’s borders.
On Monday, he and Ms. Merkel agreed to a two-week cease-fire in their standoff over migration in Germany, leaving the chancellor to scramble to make a deal with European allies on an issue that could topple her government.
And President Trump appears to be cheering on the fiasco from the Oval Office.