Trump asked envoy to see if UK would move British Open to his Scottish resort: NYT
U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Robert Wood Johnson told colleagues in early 2018 that President Trump had asked him to see if the British government would help Turnberry, the president’s Scottish golf resort, secure an offer to host the British Open, the world’s oldest golf tournament, The New York Times reported.
The newspaper, citing three people with knowledge of the situation, reported Tuesday that Johnson’s deputy, Lewis Lukens, advised him not to raise the idea. But Johnson reportedly decided to nonetheless run the idea by David Mundell, Scotland’s then-secretary of state.
A statement from Downing Street obtained by the newspaper said the U.S. diplomat “made no request of Mr. Mundell regarding the British Open or any other sporting event.”
Mundell told the Times last week that it would be “inappropriate” of him to publicly discuss his dealings with Johnson, referring to the statement made by the British government.
Colleagues of Lukens, who was reportedly forced out of the embassy by Johnson later in 2018, told the paper that the career diplomat was disturbed by Johnson’s actions and emailed officials at the State Department at the time.
As president, Trump is exempt from the federal conflict of interest law that prohibits government employees from taking part in “government matters that will affect your own personal financial interest.”
However, the president is not exempt from the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which bars federal officials from accepting gifts from foreign governments.
Trump is not a stranger to such controversies. Last year, he drew ire when he announced Trump National Doral Miami as the site of the world’s Group of Seven conference. Pushback forced the president to move the summit to Camp David, though it was ultimately canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Norman Eisen, who served as the country’s ambassador to the Czech Republic during the Obama administration, told the Times that “no experienced diplomat would do that,” referring to Johnson’s alleged conversation with Mundell.
“It is diplomatic malpractice because once you do that, you put yourself in a compromised position,” Eisen explained. “They can always say, ‘Remember that time when you made that suggestion.’”
The White House declined to comment to the Times about Trump’s reported instructions, and both Johnson and the State Department also declined to comment.
The Hill has reached out to the White House and the State Department for comment.
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