US envoy to UK investigated over racist, sexist remarks: report

President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Michael Cohen book accuses Trump of corruption, fraud Trump requests mail-in ballot for Florida congressional primary MORE’s envoy to the United Kingdom is being investigated by the State Department’s internal watchdog over complaints he made sexist and racist remarks and allegedly used his government position to benefit the president’s personal business in the country, CNN reported on Wednesday

U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson, the billionaire former NFL chairman who has served in his post since 2017, is alleged to have made racist generalizations against Black people, questioned why Black History Month should be celebrated and described women as decorative objects in “cringeworthy” remarks, according to multiple sources that spoke with CNN.

Johnson's alleged remarks toward the Black community and women in general were particularly shocking, the sources told CNN.

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They included Johnson allegedly questioning why the Black community wanted a separate month to celebrate Black history and that the “real challenge” was that Black fathers didn’t remain with their families, CNN reported. These remarks were documented and made known to inspectors with the OIG and a supervisor, the news site said.

The ambassador also allegedly said that he liked working with women because he believed they had lower salaries, saying they were “cheaper and worked harder than men,” and also allegedly commented on the way they were dressed.

Sources told CNN that the ambassador in 2017 showed no interest in hosting an event raising awareness of gender-based violence because he’s “not a woman.”

Johnson reportedly was told by a diplomat that he had to stop hosting meetings at a historically men’s-only club in London because it wouldn’t allow women.

The allegations against Johnson follow reports in The New York Times that the ambassador sought to use his position to benefit the president’s business ties in the United Kingdom, reportedly pushing for the British Open to be held at Trump’s golf course in Scotland.

The ambassador’s conduct in London is reported to be the subject of an investigation by the State Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), multiple sources told CNN.

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The IG office lists an inspection of the U.S. Embassy in London that began in September. A title of inspection is considered a catch-all term for launching a look into any complaints that might come to the IG’s office. And the turnaround time for such a report is generally believed to take about eight to nine months.

The OIG declined to comment on the CNN report and said that the office’s inspection of the London Embassy has not yet been released.

Trump fired the State Department’s Inspector General Steve Linick in May, which was condemned by both Republicans and Democrats for threatening the independence of agency watchdogs.

Democrats further raised alarm that Linick was conducting investigations into the conduct of Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo says he and Pentagon warned Russia against bounties on US troops in Afghanistan US blocking private charter flights to Cuba China's Confucius Institute designated as a foreign mission of Beijing MORE and that the watchdog’s ousting ran the risk of political retaliation.

Investigations that began under Linick’s tenure are believed to be ongoing.

Johnson denied the allegations on Twitter Wednesday.

“I have followed the ethical rules and requirements of my office at all times. These false claims of insensitive remarks about race and gender are totally inconsistent with my longstanding record and values.”

The Twitter statement comes after Johnson did not deny the allegations when asked by CNN, instead answering that it is the “honor of a lifetime” to serve as the envoy to one of the U.S.’s closest allies and that he values “the extraordinary work that each and every member of the team does to strengthen and deepen our vital alliance.”

The White House referred a request for comment by CNN to the State Department, which put its support behind the ambassador, calling Johnson “a valued member of the team who has led Mission UK honorably and professionally."

A spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in London further told CNN that it had no comment on the IG inspection but did not deny the allegations, instead focusing on that the ambassador was “fully focused” on U.S. foreign policy.

CNN reported that the Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment.

A U.K. government spokesperson disputed to CNN the claim that Johnson raised the matter of moving the British Open to the president’s golf course. The New York Times further reported that the British government, in a statement from Downing Street, said that Johnson “made no request” to then-secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, about the British Open “or any other sporting event.”

Updated: 6:08 p.m.