The US Senate confirmed Richard Grenell, a former United Nations spokesperson and Fox News contributor, as Donald Trump’s ambassador to Germany.
Grenell, whose nomination had been in limbo since last year, was confirmed in a vote of 56 to 42, a day before German chancellor Angela Merkel is due to arrive in Washington for a much-anticipated visit with Trump.
The Berlin post had been vacant for 15 months – the longest such period in postwar German history – amid opposition from Democrats to Grenell’s often controversial remarks on Twitter.
Grenell’s confirmation made him the first openly gay appointee of the Trump administration. He previously served under former UN ambassador John Bolton, who was recently named the president’s national security adviser.
An often polarizing figure, Grenell has a history of sparring with reporters on Twitter and has come under scrutiny for making derogatory comments about prominent women.
In tweets he later deleted, Grenell stated that MSNBC host Rachel Maddow “needs to take a breath and put on a necklace” and suggested former first lady Michelle Obama, a fitness devotee, was “sweating on the East Room carpet”. Grenell also criticized the appearances of Hillary Clinton and Callista Gingrich.
Democrats in the Senate held up Grenell’s nomination for months, criticizing his prior comments as “misogynistic” and “incendiary”. Grenell expressed regret at what he said were attempts at humor gone wrong.
Grenell was an early and vocal supporter of Trump’s campaign, even as other prominent foreign policy figures in the Republican party issued sharp warnings about the former reality TV star’s unpredictable candidacy. He continues to share a personal rapport with Trump and was spotted at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort over the weekend.