The U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, defended Vice President Mike Pence against accusations of homophobia alleged by Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and compared the claims to a “hate hoax along the lines of Jussie Smollett.”
“Mayor Pete has been pushing this hate hoax along the lines of Jussie Smollett for a very long time now, several weeks,” Grenell, who is openly gay, said Thursday on “The Story with Martha MacCallum.”
Smollett, an actor, is accused of faking a hate crime and is currently being sued by the city of Chicago.
Buttigieg, who is openly gay and was once cordial with Pence, has boosted criticism of the vice president calling him anti-gay.
“This is someone who was against ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' who felt it was too pro-gay. He wanted to make sure even closeted members couldn't serve,” Buttigieg said Tuesday about Pence on CNN.
Grenell, who called Pence a friend, accused the mayor of South Bend of drumming up accusations to boost fundraising and asked why he didn’t speak up while Pence was the governor of Indiana.
“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 said.
The ambassador defended Pence and his wife, cited their Christianity and said the couple “accepted” Grendell and his partner.
“Mike and Karen are great people, they're 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 asked me do we agree philosophically on every single issue? No,” Grendell said adding that he disagrees with other people he respects.
Grendell chastised the gay community for shifting from a group about tolerance to a group that demands “we all think alike” before noting that Pence has always supported Buttigieg.
“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,” Grenell said.