The American Academy of Diplomacy and the Council of American Ambassadors concurred with the State Department on Friday that the Russian interest in interviewing an American citizen over alleged crimes is “absurd” and “raises serious problems for American diplomacy.”
Arguing that diplomatic immunity is “essential” to the protection of diplomats serving overseas, they said in a statement Friday that the rule also ensures that a diplomat or ambassador is able to do their job of keeping their government “fully and completely informed without hindrance from other states and to carry out foreign policy in all its aspects free of such intervention or the threat of such intervention.”
“Administrations and policies may change but our diplomats must be confident that our government has their back,” the councils said.
During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, President Donald Trump reportedly didn’t object to Putin’s interests in interviewing Ambassador Michael McFaul and others for alleged crimes. When asked about it days later, Trump himself called it an “incredible offer” and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders indicated that Trump might be considering doing so. Sanders later clarified that Trump “disagrees” with Putin’s proposal.
“It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it,” Sanders said in a written statement. “Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt.”
Read the full statement from the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Council of American Ambassadors below.
“The Russian interest in interviewing Ambassador McFaul in connection with alleged crimes is, as the Department of State spokesman has said, absurd. The request raises serious problems for American diplomacy and those serving our nation as diplomats overseas. Full diplomatic immunities are essential to protecting diplomats in their efforts to keep their government fully and completely informed without hindrance from other states and to carry out foreign policy in all its aspects free of such intervention or the threat of such intervention. American diplomats need to be able to trust that their immunities will be fully preserved by both so long as they are performing their duties and in connection with previously performed duties covered by such immunities under international law. Administrations and policies may change but our diplomats must be confident that our government has their back.
“Were that not to be the case, no diplomat could be secure in carrying out his or her instructions from Washington and confident the United States will not turn them over to a foreign state for investigation of any action they took for the United States while covered by diplomatic immunities. The Russian suggestion that the U.S. government should in any way facilitate the questioning of diplomats covered by immunities during their service in Russia is a concept that should be rejected to assure the full protection of U.S. interests and the diplomats serving those interests.”