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After Months of Vetting, Trump Gives Doug Macgregor a Shot

The retired colonel would replace the influential Ric Grenell as ambassador to Germany.

After months of vetting him for various positions within the administration, President Trump nominated Douglas Macgregor — a retired Army colonel, combat veteran and military author — to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to Germany on Monday.

The release from the White House made note that Macgregor is “widely recognized as an expert on force design and grand strategy,” worked with the late, legendary Ambassador Richard Holbrooke in the run-up to the Dayton Accords, that he has consulted with both NATO and the Israeli Defense Forces and that he received a Bronze Star with a “V” device for valor for leadership under fire. The emissary position to the European Union’s largest economy is considered of extra import because of the precarious relationship between Trump and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Macgregor would succeed Richard “Ric” Grenell, who emerged as one of the key power players in Donald Trump’s first term in office— the president’s “pointman on Europe.” Grenell, like the president a star on social media, expanded his influence well past Berlin, drawing derision in certain quarters along the way. Grenell exited the post earlier this year to serve as interim director of national intelligence. Not currently in the administration, Grenell is occasionally floated for vice president, if Trump should make a ticket switch, as I first reported in May.

Macgregor’s ascent occurred after some consideration last fall that he be appointed national security advisor, following the ouster of John Bolton. After the nod went instead to Robert C. O’Brien, previously Trump’s hostage negotiator, Macgregor was considered for roles at the Pentagon. Macgregor has staked himself out as a friend of foreign policy restraint (speaking most recently at The American Conservative’s foreign policy conference last November). He has also been a frequent presence on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Mr. Carlson is chair of TAC’s advisory board). 

But Macgregor has attracted negative attention in the neoconservative press. An April report in the Free Beacon alleged that “isolationist allies,” including Carlson, were championing the “obscure colonel” for a role in Washington. Carlson vehemently denied any boosterism and the report was panned for a cherry-picking representation of Macgregor’s public record. Should Mr. Trump win a second term — if Grenell’s use of the office was any indication — Macgregor is poised to only grow in policy influence. But first, he will have to win Senate confirmation, where independent-minded Republican senators such as Mitt Romney are considered to be wildcards.

about the author

Curt Mills is Senior Reporter at TAC covering national security, the 2020 campaign and the Trump presidency. Previously, he reported for The National Interest, Washington Examiner, U.S. News & World Report and the Spectator. Mills was a 2018-2019 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow and is a native and resident of Washington, D.C.

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