While the specifics may vary, parties involved do agree that a meeting had taken place. According to Reuters, sources familiar with the talks say White House chief strategist Steve Bannon met with a German diplomat one week before Vice-President Mike Pence pledged America’s commitment to the European Union. Allegedly, Bannon had delivered a different message expressing a yearning for nationalism and making it known that he saw the EU as a flawed construct. A White House official confirmed there was a meeting but claimed it lasted around three minutes and was only to convey a quick hello.

However, the three sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the meeting lasted longer with Bannon speaking favorably about European populist movements. Bannon supposedly said western Europe’s foundation was made possible by strong nationalist movements and thinks it can “see us forward.”

What to make of this new United States of America?

Reportedly, the encounter is said to have left German government officials feeling a little rattled, especially since they were hoping the former head of Breitbart would have tempered his views now that he’s in the White House. One person briefed on the meeting felt the comments confirmed their idea that Germany and European partners should prepare for a policy of hostility towards them.

Based on conversations with administration contacts, another source said the White House does not appear to have an understanding and unraveling of the EU would lead to grave consequences.

Double talk and confusion

Former German ambassador to the Britain and United Nations, Thomas Matussek, told Reuters that they are worried and should be worried.

He added that no one knows for sure what kind of decisions will be coming out of the White House, but he hopes Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis can convince the president to work with the EU. Other European leaders are also worried about all the mixed signals coming out of the White House. They can only believe that either one hand does not know what the other is doing or worse, as even one reporter asked Mike Pence who should they believe, him or the president?