In a scandal that would prompt impeachment hearings in any other presidency, Donald Trump asked Robert Wood Johnson IV, the U.S. Ambassador to Britain, to use his diplomatic power as an American envoy to get the prestigious British Open golf tournament to be held at Turnberry, Trump’s golf resort in Scotland.
The NYT reports: “The ambassador’s deputy, Lewis A. Lukens, advised him not to do it, warning that it would be an unethical use of the presidency for private gain, these people said. But Mr. Johnson apparently felt pressured to try. A few weeks later, he raised the idea of Turnberry playing host to the Open with the secretary of state for Scotland, David Mundell.”
“The episode left Mr. Lukens and other diplomats deeply unsettled,” according to the NYT and “a few months later, Mr. Johnson forced out Mr. Lukens, a career diplomat who had earlier served as ambassador to Senegal, shortly before his term was to end.”
Said Mark Landler, London bureau chief for the New York Times to Rachel Maddow: “It would be sending a signal to the British government that the chief emissary of the U.S. government is willing to engage in venal and possibly illegal behavior on behalf of the president. And secondly for the simple reason that having compromised himself this way, the risk he takes is that if there’s a difficult situation, a tough meeting he has to have, a demand he needs to make in the future his host can say to him, ‘gee Mr. Ambassador, when you made that suggestion about the golf course a few months ago.’ … It’s diplomatic malpractice and it just puts any diplomat and particularly an ambassador into an almost impossible position in terms of his standing and credibility with the host government.”
Replied Maddow: “When you take a larger view of that not only was the president seeking to use the U.S. government for personal gain…. but in so doing he was not only seeking gain for himself but he was actually hurting the interest of the United States. …. It impedes the real work we have to do in sticking up for U.S. interests across the globe.”