The State Department’s Inspector General released a 43-page report Wednesday on the U.S. embassy to the United Kingdom that finds staff complained Ambassador ‘Woody’ Johnson made ‘inappropriate or insensitive comments’ about race and sex.
The finding is included in a broader look at ‘executive direction, policy and program implementation, resource management’ and other issues at the U.S. embassy in London, one of the most important foreign diplomatic postings.
The report confirms explosive allegations that came out last month that Johnson made ‘sexist, racist’ comments that staff reported to investigators.
The IG concluded ‘a more thorough review by the Department is warranted,’ after briefly spelling out the allegations against the New York Jets owner and Johnson & Johnson heir.
And the report revealed that Johnson wanted the allegations hushed up saying he had watched a video on workplace discrimination policy and saying there were no official complaints against him.
‘If I have unintentionally offended anyone in the execution of my duties, I deeply regret that, but I do not accept that I have treated employees with disrespect or discriminated in any way,’ he said.
‘I respectfully disagree with Recommendation 1 [for a more thorough review] and ask that the OIG consider the absence of any official complaints against me during my three year tenure and the generally positive tone of the OIG report on Mission UK before including the recommendation in the final report and concluding that my actions have negatively affected morale,’ he said.
US ambassador to the UK Woody Johnson is accused of sometimes making ‘inappropriate or insensitive comments,’ according to a new Inspector General’s report
The IG investigators found ‘that some staff were impacted by the Ambassador’s demanding, hard driving work style and it had a negative effect on morale in some embassy sections.’
The IG learned through questionnaires and interviews ‘that the Ambassador sometimes made inappropriate or insensitive comments on topics generally considered Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)-sensitive, such as religion, sex, or color.’
It did not specify what the comments were.
‘For example, some embassy staff told OIG that when the Ambassador was frustrated with what he interpreted to be excessive staff caution or resistance to suggestions about which he felt strongly, he sometimes questioned their intentions or implied that he might have them replaced,’ the IG wrote, commenting on Johnson’s leadership.
‘This caused staff to grow wary of providing him with their best judgment.’
President Donald Trump leaves Winfield House, residence of the US Ambassador Woody Johnson, left, before boarding Marine One helicopter for the flight to Chequers, in Buckinghamshire, Friday, July 13, 2018 in London
Ambassador Johnson’s Credentialing Ceremony November 8, 2017
The comments are part of a broader look at the U.S. embassy in London
The report mentions personnel clashes, morale, and ‘insensitive’ comments dealing with rae and sex
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (R) speaks to the United States Ambassador to Britain Robert Wood Johnson as they attend a joint meeting of the United for Wildlife task forces for the financial and transport sector to combat illegal wildlife trade at the Royal Geographical Society on May 14, 2019 in London
The report quotes the Foreign Affairs Manual stating that ‘offensive or derogatory comments, based on an individual’s race, color, sex, or religion, can create an offensive working environment and could potentially rise to a violation’ of anti-discrimination laws.
Johnson is quoted in response to the draft report in May. ”If I have unintentionally offended anyone in the execution of my duties, I deeply regret that, but I do not accept that I have treated employees with disrespect or discriminated in any way,’ he wrote.
CNN reported last month that Johnson was being investigated for allegedly making racist and sexist comments – as well as for allegedly seeking to use his post to benefit the president’s Scottish golf courses by bringing the British Open to one of his courses.
”He’s said some pretty sexist, racist,’ a diplomat told the network.
The New York Times previously reported that Johnson asked a British diplomat who was representing Scotland about bringing the Open to Trump’s Turnberry golf course.
The IG’s report does not mention allegations about seeking to use his post to benefit the president’s business.
Johnson wrote in his full response: ‘During my tenure as U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom and indeed for the entirety of my professional life, I have respected both the law and the spirit of EEO principles and have ensured that all employees under my direction do the same.’
He continued: ‘If I have unintentionally offended anyone in the execution of my duties, I deeply regret that, but I do not accept that I have treated employees with disrespect or discriminated in any way. My objective is to lead the highly talented team at Mission UK to execute the President’s policies and to do so in a way that is respectful of our differences, with zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind.’