Denis “the fixer” McDonough is President Obama’s current Chief of Staff. [Keeping tabs on him is also a little fun hobby of mine.] The Fixer Goes To Germany.
Hey, why not…. what else does he have to do ?
WASHINGTON — In a sign of just how much German-American relations have frayed, President Obama sent his chief of staff to Berlin to try to smooth over the rupture caused by recent revelations of American spying on its ally, the White House said Tuesday.
Denis R. McDonough, the president’s chief of staff, met with his German counterpart in Berlin on Tuesday for what the White House called “intensive talks on the state of bilateral relations and future cooperation.” The American and German officials agreed to set up a dialogue “to address concerns of both sides,” the two sides said in identical statements issued by the White House and the Chancellery in Berlin.
The surprise trip by such a close confidant of Mr. Obama’s underscored the seriousness of the friction over recent disclosures about American espionage in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel was already livid last year when she learned that her cellphone was being tapped by the National Security Agency, and the damage only deepened this month with the arrest of a German intelligence agent accused of spying for the United States.
Germany responded to the latest case by expelling the C.I.A. station chief in Berlin, who has now left the country. Mr. Obama and Ms. Merkel discussed the episode in a recent telephone call and American officials said Mr. McDonough’s trip originated from that conversation. The latest falling out came even as Mr. Obama is pressing Ms. Merkel to orchestrate a tougher European response to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.
Mr. McDonough, a longtime adviser to Mr. Obama, sometimes undertook overseas missions of this sort when he was deputy national security adviser, but it is rare for a White House chief of staff to travel abroad for this sort of negotiation. In sending someone so close to him, Mr. Obama was most likely trying to show how seriously he takes the matter.
Mr. McDonough was accompanied by Lisa Monaco, the president’s counterterrorism adviser, and they met with Peter Altmaier, Ms. Merkel’s chief of staff, and Günter Heiss, head of Directorate-General 6 of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service.
“I would describe the talks as productive and a useful trip,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary. “It is our view that these kinds of differences are best resolved through these private established channels and not litigated in the media.”
In a rare display of unity in the dispute that has so badly strained the trans-Atlantic relationship, the two sides issued identical statements about the meeting.
Ms. Merkel has been struggling to strike a balance between appeasing a German public outraged over what it views as reckless disregard by the Americans for the sanctity of their personal data, and the need to continue supporting crucial cooperation between the two countries’ security services. (read more)