May 3, 2017

Pro-Israel leader: WH promised Grenell as NATO ambassador

Richard Drew / AP

The influential conservative pro-Israel leader, Morton Klein, says he's deeply concerned to read a CNN report that former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is the leading contender to be the U.S. ambassador to NATO.

Klein, who leads the conservative Zionist Organization of America, is close to Republican and pro-Trump mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. Klein tells me the Trump administration gave assurances to his associates that the NATO post would go to the former U.S. spokesman at the United Nations, Richard Grenell.

"Ric Grenell is a very strong supporter of Israel...He understands the reality of the Arab-Islamic war against Israel, and I know he has strong feelings, if he were to become the ambassador to NATO, to push to have Israel to become a member of the [UN] Security Council," Klein said.

Klein spoke to me by phone on Tuesday evening, shortly after he left the White House. He'd been there with VP Mike Pence, prominent Senators, and the new ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, to commemorate the 69th anniversary of Israel's independence.

I asked Klein how he came to understand that the Trump administration had given assurances about Grenell (a development Bloomberg reported in March.)

"All I can say is that significant people have told that that was their understanding," he said. "If I told you the names, you would know that they are significant."

The White House did not respond when asked about the Grenell assurances.

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