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June 7, 2018 11:28 am

Trump’s Nominee for Ambassador to Warsaw Under Fire for Highlighting Polish Antisemitism During Senate Hearing

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Georgette Mosbacher, President Trump’s nominee for US Ambassador to Poland, speaks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Photo: US Senate TV.

President Donald Trump’s nominee for US Ambassador to Poland has sparked ire among top officials in Warsaw after she sharply criticized recent Polish legislation on the commemoration of World War II at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing this week.

Asked by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) if she was familiar “with what’s going on with antisemitism in Eastern Europe,” Mosbacher highlighted Poland’s amended IPN Act — signed into law by President Andrzej Duda on Feb. 6 and currently awaiting final approval from the country’s Constitutional Tribunal — which deems public discussion of Polish collusion with the Nazi extermination of the Jews a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison.

Antisemitism in the region had “unfortunately been sparked by a Holocaust law that Poland passed recently,” Mosbacher argued at Tuesday’s confirmation hearing.

“We cannot tolerate any kind of bigotry, this is fundamental to our values,” she continued. “I would work with Poland to make sure that before they put out any kind of legislation, that it did not incite bigotry. That’s unacceptable, intolerance in any form.”

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But Polish officials were infuriated by Mosbacher’s comments on the new law. They also took exception to a passage from her prepared statement in which she said, “I am aware of recent concerns about respect for democratic institutions in Poland — freedom of speech, the independence of the judiciary, and the rule of law — and I am ready to voice our strong support for these essential freedoms if I am confirmed as ambassador.”

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Bartosz Cichocki, who has been in Washington, DC this week on an official visit, said that he rejected Mosbacher’s claims. Speaking to Polish journalists after he raised Mosbacher’s testimony with officials at the US State Department — including the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell — Cichoki said he had been “satisfied” by their reaction, adding that he would make no further comment on the matter until Mosbacher is confirmed in the post.

“Please, leave the pleasure of responding to Mrs Mosbacher’s statement to the State Department,” Cichoki told reporters.

Mosbacher, 71, is the daughter of a working class Indiana family who made her fortune in the cosmetics industry during the 1980s. A long-time associate of President Trump, Mosbacher is a noted Republican party fundraiser and a former co-chair of the RNC’s finance committee.

In her prepared statement, Mosbacher paid tribute to the Polish Americans she encountered during her youth. “In East Chicago, Indiana, I was surrounded by Polish culture,” she said. “The Chicago region had the greatest concentration of Poles outside Poland. Everywhere I turned, I saw these hard-working immigrants — deeply faithful, industrious people.”

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