Members of the U.S. Congress have slammed a decision by the Trump administration to downgrade the diplomatic status of the EU embassy in Washington, saying the move and the way it was carried out "needlessly denigrate transatlantic relations."
In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, 27 Democratic Members of Congress say they are "deeply troubled" by recent reports of the downgrade.
The lawmakers also complain that "disturbingly, this step ... occurred without Congressional consultation or apparent notification to the European Union."
"Both the substance of this decision and the undiplomatic way in which it was carried out needlessly denigrate transatlantic relations," the letter says.
The signatories include House foreign affairs committee Chairman Eliot Engel, Jim Costa of the Transatlantic Legislators' Dialogue and Gregory Meeks, co-chairman of the EU Caucus.
The letter, dated January 11, demands answers to a series of questions by the end of the month, asking why Congress was not consulted, when the decision was made and when the EU was informed. "Why was this decision made and and how was it reviewed and approved within the Administration?" they ask, before adding a final punch: "Exactly how does this decision to downgrade our diplomatic relationship with the EU strengthen the United States?"
But there's not only questions, there's also free advice: "We ought to support and strengthen our allies, not turn them into foes. Insulting them for no apparent reason does not typically encourage them to take a warmer view of the United States."
The letter echoes criticism voiced by members of the European Parliament in a letter last week.
"Such moves play into the hands of rival global powers and can only lead to greater fragmentation rather than much needed increased cooperation,” said that letter, signed by Christian Ehler, Jeppe Kofod and Marietje Schaake, the chair and vice chairs, respectively, of the Parliament's delegation for relations with the U.S.
Schaake, a Dutch liberal, told POLITICO that the letter by members of Congress "underlines the importance of EU-U.S. cooperation, and pushes back against the hostile approach by the Trump administration."
She added that "it is very disappointing to see no Republican signatories, as transatlantic cooperation was never a partisan issue. Working together to preserve the quality of life of our people by making relevant policies for rules-based trade, security, sustainability, digitization and immigration, is our duty."