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German ambassador pick disparaged immigrants and refugees, called for martial law at US-Mexico border

(CNN) President Donald Trump's nominee to become the US ambassador to Germany has a history of making xenophobic and racist comments about immigrants and refugees in both Germany and the US.

Retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, a decorated combat veteran, author and frequent guest on Fox News, claimed that Muslim migrants were coming to Europe "with the goal of eventually turning Europe into an Islamic state." He criticized Germany for giving "millions of unwanted Muslim invaders" welfare benefits rather than providing more funding for its armed services.

Macgregor's newly unearthed comments come as the Trump administration announced it will withdraw nearly 12,000 troops from bases in Germany. The decision to remove troops from Germany was slammed by Republicans, Democrats and former senior military officials, who said the move would benefit Russia.

If Macgregor's nomination is confirmed by the Senate, he would oversee a new diplomatic period in US-German relations, one that has reached new lows after reports that Trump bullied and berated German Chancellor Angela Merkel on state phone calls.

CNN's KFile reviewed dozens of radio and television interviews with Macgregor and found he often demonized immigrants and refugees. He warned Mexican cartels were "driving millions of Mexicans with no education, no skills and the wrong culture into the United States, placing them essentially as wards of the American people." He repeatedly advocated to institute martial law at the US-Mexico border and "shoot people" if necessary.

He also said that Eastern Ukrainians are "Russians" on the Russian state-controlled TV network RT in 2014 after Russia tried to annex Crimea and began an ongoing war with Ukraine over the territory -- positions not supported by the European Union and United States. He lamented that the US government intervened against Serbian forces, who engaged in ethnic cleansing and war crimes, during the Kosovo War in the 1990s to "put, essentially, a Muslim drug mafia in charge of that country."

CNN reached out to Macgregor for comment multiple times, but he did not respond. A State Department spokesperson referred CNN to the White House for questions about presidential nominations.

White House spokesman Judd Deere told CNN in an email that Macgregor is "enormously qualified" to serve as the ambassador to Germany, citing his expertise in German history and language and his experience serving in West Germany during the Cold War.

"While the Swamp may feel threatened by President Trump's nominee, who believes strongly in putting America first, the White House wants to see this critical diplomatic post filled without delay," said Deere.

Macgregor's nomination is already seeing opposition in the Senate, however. Senate Foreign Relations Ranking Member Bob Menendez, whose committee oversees Macgregor's nomination, told CNN that Macgregor's comments disqualify him from any government office and called on his colleagues to reject Macgregor.

"Colonel MacGregor's public statements over the years on immigration, Muslims, and our relationship with Germany should disqualify him for any government office, much less to represent the United States as an ambassador. Even if his views reflect those of President Trump, it is incumbent on the entire Senate, including Senate Republicans, to reject this nominee," said Menendez.

The retired colonel has sharply criticized US military and foreign policy. He bashed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as failures, though he notably touts on his company's website that his strategy to invade Iraq was adopted by the Pentagon and strongly supported the war at the time.

Macgregor graduated from West Point and served in the US Army for nearly 30 years as a decorated combat veteran. He retired as a colonel in 2004. He has written five books and currently works as an executive vice president of a defense and foreign policy consulting firm based in Virginia. He is a frequent radio and television commentator on national security affairs, most recently for Fox News and RT.

Macgregor referred to Muslim refugees in Germany as 'unwanted invaders'

Macgregor has also criticized Germany's armed forces. Like Trump, Macgregor has repeatedly called to withdraw troops from Germany and "make it clear to them that we are not going to be the first responder."

"The Germans, like the Koreans and the Japanese, are tired of this American troop presence on their soil. And I think that if you want the Germans to step up and assert themselves as the great power that they are, one of the first steps in that direction is to change our relationship with Germany in terms of military power. Make it clear to them that we are not going to be the first responder," said Macgregor in 2019. "We will continue to be allied and we will support, but we're not going to rush hundreds of thousands of troops to the Polish border to deal with the Russians,"

He frequently expressed these ideas on Fox News.

"The Germans, thanks to us, don't feel obligated to defend themselves. And the President has simply said, 'look, why should the American taxpayer defend you if you aren't willing to defend yourself?'" Macgregor said in 2018.

Macgregor's criticisms of Germany extended to its immigration policies. He said, "These people are not coming to assimilate and become part of Europe. They're coming to benefit to consume and to establish themselves inside other people's countries with the goal of eventually turning Europe into an Islamic state. That's a bad thing for the West. It's a bad thing for Europeans," said Macgregor in a radio interview in June 2016.

He lamented in an interview posted in 2015 that the European Union provided "very luxurious and extremely expensive welfare" benefits to Muslim refugees during the height of the global migrant crisis and that "these people are not coming to assimilate or become Europeans--quite the opposite. They're coming to take over whatever they can get."

He further attacked the German military and government in 2018 for having "practically no armed forces" and instead spending money on "unwanted Muslim invaders."

"[Germany is] spending money, but they have practically no armed forces, their army, their air force, both are terribly demoralized. I know many, many men who were in those armed forces in Germany, and that's a function of this extremely bizarre government that seems more concerned about providing free services to millions of unwanted Muslim invaders, to be blunt, than it does about its own armed forces in the defense of its country," said Macgregor in 2018.

Macgregor also described the German cultural concept of Vergangenheitsbewältigung, which seeks to "cope with the past" and confront the atrocities the country committed in World War II, as a "sick mentality" and he downplayed the country's Nazi history.

"There's sort of a sick mentality that says that generations after generations must atone sins of what happened in 13 years of German history and ignore the other 1,500 years of Germany. And Germany played a critical role in central Europe in terms of defending the serving Western civilization. So I think that's, that's the problem," Macgregor said in 2018.

Macgregor called for martial law at the US-Mexico border and 'shooting people' if necessary

Macgregor's hardline opinions on immigration also applied to immigration in the US. Macgregor warned that the most serious threat to US national security was in Mexico and that the country undermined "the very strengthened cohesion of our society." He claimed that "hostile Islamist cells" operating out of South America were coming into the US through the US border.

"You can make a damn good argument that the most serious threat to the United States in American society today is the criminality in Mexico, the drug cartels and the human trafficking that is driving millions of Mexicans with no education, no skills and the wrong culture into the United States, placing them essentially as wards of the American people," said Macgregor in 2012.

Macgregor frequently advocated to enact martial law on the Mexico border.

"Well, the only solution is martial law on the border, putting the United States Army in charge of it and closing it off would take about 30, 40,000 troops. We're talking about the regular army. You need robust rules of engagement. That means that you can shoot people as required if your life is in danger," he said in 2019.

In 2016, he wrote a blog post arguing for the use of deadly force to shoot undocumented immigrants at the border.

"The answer is for the U.S. Government to do its job and take responsibility for controlling the US-Mexican border, sealing the border except at fully monitored, fully policed authorized border crossings, and implementing and publicizing a "use of deadly force authorized" border control policy," wrote Macgregor in June 2016. He continued, "Once it becomes clear that Central Americans AND Mexicans [and other illegals], are NOT going to survive an attempt to enter the US, and will be LUCKY if they are turned back rather than killed in the attempt to violate US sovereign borders, the flow will diminish substantially," he wrote.

On numerous occasions, Macgregor said it was in the interest of the Democratic Party to "bring as many of these people into the country as possible." While appearing on the Fox News program Tucker Carlson Tonight in June 2019, Macgregor said that forcing "demographic change" is a key strategy to obtain and keep permanent power.

"The Democratic Party has decided they are the future for the left in the United States. The more of these people that can be brought in illegally, as well as legally, the better it is for the Democratic party because their goal is to transform the United States into a facsimile of California. So that any election is impossible from the standpoint of the right, from the standpoint of the Republican party, to win anything," said Macgregor.

He added, "The real interest is to create demographic change that will make them the permanent power inside the borders of the United States."

Views on Eastern Europe

In other comments, Macgregor also took fringe positions outside of US foreign policy.

During an appearance in 2014 on RT, the Russian state-controlled media network, Macgregor said that Eastern and Southern Ukrainians are "clearly Russian" and "we now have a demand for recognition that the people that live in those areas are, in fact, Russians."

While Russia considers southern and eastern Ukraine to be Russian -- and illegally annexed Crimea in 2014 and began an ongoing war with Ukraine over it -- Ukraine, the European Union and the US does not recognize that, and considers the region to be Ukrainian.

Macgregor added he agreed that a controversial referendum on the annexation of Crimea needed to take place.

"Do you, if you are living in Eastern Ukraine, want to join Russia, which appears to be the popular sentiment? If so, they should be allowed to join Russia. And at the same time, what emerges from this process up in the West and in the North, which is truly Ukrainian in terms of culture, language, history, religion, so forth, they should be allowed to have a sovereign independent Ukrainian state," said Macgregor.

Similarly, the EU and US condemned the Crimea referendum as illegal.

In one radio interview from 2019, Macgregor criticized the Clinton administration's involvement in the Kosovo War conflict in the late 1990s as an attempt to "essentially cultivate friendship and understanding in the Muslim world" by intervening against the Serbian forces.

"So we intervened against the Orthodox Serbs, Orthodox Christian Serbs in Kosovo and put essentially a Muslim drug mafia in charge of that country and called it a great success story for democracy," said Macgregor, appearing to side with the Serbians. "These people have never been our friends. They aren't ever going to be our friends. They are incurably hostile. I'm talking about the Sunni Islamists."

The US involvement in Kosovo successfully fought against Serbian forces, who are estimated to have ethnically cleansed at least 11,000 people and displaced more than 1.5 million Kosovar Albanians.

According to Macgregor's biography, he was responsible for the strategic planning that led to the Kosovo Air Campaign and was later promoted to supervise the conduct and planning of operations on the strategic level with a staff of 240 officers and noncommissioned officers from 19 NATO nations until the end of the Kosovo War.