US State Department spokeswoman notes D-Day in answer on 'strong relationship' with Germany
Eli Watkins, CNN
6:09 AM, Jun 6, 2018
6:10 AM, Jun 6, 2018
(CNN) -- State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Tuesday cited the D-Day invasion during an answer about the current state of US-German relations.
"We have a very strong relationship with the government of Germany," Nauert said. "Looking back in the history books, today is the 71st anniversary of the speech that announced the Marshall Plan. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the D-Day invasion. We obviously have a very long history with the government of Germany, and we have a strong relationship with the government of Germany."
Nauert's comment came during a press briefing Tuesday after she was asked about controversial remarks by the US ambassadors to Germany and Israel.
Richard Grenell, the US envoy to Germany, turned heads when he did an interview with the far-right news site Breitbart. In the interview, Grenell criticized the German government and said he wants to "empower" European conservatives.
The ambassador was criticized for politicizing diplomacy at a time when US-German relations are strained over Trump's withdrawals from the Iran deal and the Paris climate accord and his imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union.
When asked about Grenell's remarks on Tuesday, Nauert offered a broad answer about ambassadors having "a right to express their opinion."
"Regardless of whether or not you all like it, sometimes these things are what ambassadors say," Nauert said before going on to invoke D-Day and the Marshall Plan.
She went on to say that Grenell was "merely highlighting" that some parties in Europe are doing well.
Later in the briefing, Nauert said that the US supports a multitude of voices within each nation's political system and appeared to back Grenell's supportive comments for conservative parties abroad.
"I think Rick was pointing out a fact that some conservatives have done better in other countries, and I'll just leave it at that," Nauert said.
Asked if there were socialist voices that should be heard, Nauert reiterated that governments are "entitled to speak" and veered into criticism of Venezuela's left-wing government.
US ambassador to Israel tells reporters to keep their 'mouths shut'
US ambassador to Israel David Friedman likewise courted controversy when he went after the media for its coverage of the Israeli military's killing protesters in Gaza during Palestinian demonstrations over the past several months.
"Just keep your mouths shut until you figure it out," Friedman said during comments arguing coverage has been tilted against Israel, according to an account from The Times of Israel.
Nauert said Tuesday that Friedman "was explaining his opinion that some in the media, not all, but some in media organizations have not done that balanced job of reporting," and she instructed reporters to look at his comments in full.
Nauert went on to deny Israel was behind the suffering in Gaza, which Israel has put under blockade since Hamas took over, and pinned the situation on Hamas, which the US has classified as a terrorist group.
"Let's look at the misery there and what has brought on that misery," Nauert said. "Has it been brought on by the United States government? No. Has it been brought on by Israel? We would assert no. ... Has it been brought upon the people of Gaza by Hamas? Yes, it certainly does, and Hamas has a responsibility to take care of its people, and it does not, it fails to do so consistently."