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Germany’s Maas Chides Trump, Urges All U.S. Votes Be Counted

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 11/6/2020 Arne Delfs
Heiko Maas wearing a suit and tie: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks during a joint press conference as part of a meeting with the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Berlin, Germany, Monday, October 26, 2020. © Photographer: Michael Sohn/AFP via Getty Images German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks during a joint press conference as part of a meeting with the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Berlin, Germany, Monday, October 26, 2020.

(Bloomberg) -- Germany called on Donald Trump to play by the rules and accept the result of the U.S. presidential election in a rare diplomatic intervention by a key Western ally.

Trump’s appeal to end the counting of ballots “doesn’t comply with the democratic culture” of the U.S., Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told public broadcaster ARD Thursday.

“It’s easy to be a winner, but sometimes it’s quite hard to be a loser,” Maas said. “It’s important that in the end the result will be accepted by everybody.”

In a separate interview with ZDF television on Friday, Maas said it’s “perhaps a bit scary” that people are no longer surprised by Trump’s behavior, “although one really doesn’t want to believe it.”

“One thing is very certain: that the next American president has a very important and outstanding task, that is to end the polarization in the country and bring society together again,” he said. “That’s what the next president is needed for.”

Until now, European leaders have chosen to keep quiet on the unfolding political drama in the U.S., and await a final resolution. Germany has a track record of keeping a low profile when it comes to foreign policy and avoiding controversial positions.

In this case, it’s taking a clear stand in trying to steer Trump to accept whatever the result is when it comes. With Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead in key states, Trump has suggested the ballot represents a “major fraud on our nation” and threatened to take the results to the Supreme Court.

Lawsuits to challenge the vote count, however, have gained little traction, with at least two being thrown out in Georgia and Michigan.


Video: Has the US presidential election led to further divisions? (Al Jazeera)

“This is first of all the Trump family and his close campaign team,” Maas, a member of the Social Democrats, the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition, told ARD. “I can imagine that there are also a number of proud Republicans who follow with growing suspicion what is happening there.”

Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, on Friday declined to comment on Maas’ statements, saying she would remark on the outcome of the U.S. election “at the appropriate moment.”

Read more: Biden’s Hold on Race Tightens as Trump Hopes for Court Victory

Since Trump came to power, relations with Germany have deteriorated. In 2017, he refused to shake hands with Merkel on camera during his first White House meeting with the German leader.

As recently as August, Trump ordered the withdrawal of a portion of U.S. troops from Germany amid reports that he was angered by Merkel’s refusal to participate in the Group of Seven summit in the U.S. during the pandemic.

In other flash points, Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on German cars and demanded Germany spend more on its defense as part of a NATO pledge. He enforced sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project with Russia and tried to force Merkel to exclude the Chinese network provider Huawei Technologies Co. from the country’s 5G network.

“I wish most of all for better relations between the U.S. and Europe, and Germany,” Maas told ZDF. “With all the conflicts, crises and wars in the world, we need the U.S. and Europe to work hand in hand.”

John Kornblum, a former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, said Trump’s accusations of election fraud damage America’s credibility.

“It’s not good when your own president is questioning the system which he is so to speak not responsible for but which he is charged with defending,” Kornblum, who served under Democrat President Bill Clinton, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

(Updates with comments from Merkel’s spokesman in 10th paragraph)

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