Richard Grenell, the openly gay U.S. ambassador to Germany, likened Pete Buttigieg’s attempt to portray Vice President Mike Pence as homophobic to a Jussie Smollett-style “hate hoax,” during a Thursday night Fox News appearance.
The tense back-and-forth between Buttigieg and the former Indiana governor, with whom he often worked in his role as South Bend, Indiana mayor, began earlier this month when he referred to the vice president at a LGBT event as if Pence had a “problem” with who he is as a gay man.
After playing a clip of Buttigieg referring again to Pence, this time taking aim at his position on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Fox News host Martha MacCallum asked for Grenell’s response:
Mayor Pete has been pushing this hate hoax along the lines of Jussie Smollett for a very long time now, several weeks, and I find it really ironic that Mayor Pete stayed silent about this so-called hate hoax on him and others during 2015, 2016, 2017 when Mike Pence was governor. There was total silence. It’s ironic that right about now when he’s starting his fund-raising apparatus to run for president that he comes up with this idea and this attack.
Grenell then personally defended Pence and his wife, Karen:
One of the things that really bothers me about this attack is that Mike Pence is a friend of mine. Mike and Karen are great people. They are godly people. They’re followers of Christ. They don’t have hate in their heart for anyone. They know my partner, they have accepted us. You ask me do we agree philosophically on every single issue? No.
The ambassador lamented the fact that, instead of pushing for “tolerance and diversity,” the gay community is now “demanding that we all think alike.” (RELATED: Protester Interrupts Buttigieg Event With Fire And Brimstone)
“I think it’s outrageous, and let me say one more thing,” he said. “When Mayor Pete came out, the vice president complimented him and said he holds him in high regard. The vice president or then-governor has said nothing but positive things about Mayor Pete. I think this is a total hate hoax and I think it’s outrageous.”