President Joe Biden’s nominee to serve in a top State Department post said “fuck the EU” in a leaked 2014 call, causing a diplomatic row at the time with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Biden’s nominee for undersecretary of state for political affairs, Victoria Nuland, was serving as former President Barack Obama’s assistant secretary for Europe when she used the undiplomatic language during a private phone call with then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. Nuland was expressing exasperation that her European counterparts were not doing enough to support Ukraine as it was on the brink of revolution against its former Russian-backed president, Viktor Yanukovych.
“So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and to have the UN help glue it and, you know, fuck the EU,” Nuland told Pyatt on the call.
“No, exactly,” Pyatt responded. “And I think we’ve got to do something to make it stick together because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude, that the Russians will be working behind the scenes to torpedo it.”
Merkel condemned Nuland’s comments at the time, The Guardian reported.
“The chancellor finds these remarks totally unacceptable,” said Merkel spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz, according to The Guardian.
Jen Psaki, serving at the time as a State Department spokeswoman, did not dispute the authenticity of the call following its leak but criticized Russia’s role in obtaining and publicizing the tape as “a new low in Russian tradecraft,” according to Reuters.
Psaki also said Nuland had apologized to her EU counterparts for her comments, according to Reuters.
Nuland told Politico in 2018 that she viewed the incident as a turning point in Russian tradecraft.
“The gloves were coming off and the knives were coming out,” Nuland told Politico, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin was willing to “pull out Cold War-style dirty tricks” to embarrass a top U.S. official.
Nuland’s tenure as America’s top European diplomat during the Obama administration was polarizing.
Her European counterparts used words such as “brash,” “direct,” forceful,” “blunt,” “crude,” and “undiplomatic,” Foreign Policy reported in 2015. But Nuland cultivated bipartisan support in Washington D.C.
Former Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain said he was a “great admirer of hers,” and Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy said he was “an enormous fan of ‘Toria'” for not pulling her punches on the job, according to Foreign Policy.
An outspoken critic of Russia, Nuland played a key role during the 2016 election setting up meetings with former British spy Christopher Steele and disseminating his now-debunked dossier that falsely accused the Trump campaign of conspiring with Russia at the State Department.
FBI officials also privately criticized Nuland for asking too many questions about its investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia, the Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported. (RELATED: Victoria Nuland, Who Biden Will Reportedly Nominate For Top Government Post, Boosted Steele Dossier At The State Department)
The White House did not return a request for comment.
Nuland’s nomination to serve as undersecretary for political affairs was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Feb. 13. Her confirmation hearing has not yet been scheduled.
If confirmed, Nuland would be the third-ranking official at the State Department.
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