President Donald Trump reportedly tried to the diplomatic relations between the U.S. and United Kingdom to promote his Turnberry golf club in Scotland.
The New York Times reported Tuesday evening that Robert Wood Johnson IV, Trump’s politically appointed ambassador to the U.K., told his colleagues in February 2018 that the President had asked him to convince the British government to help arrange for the British Open golf tournament to be hosted at Trump’s resort.
Several weeks after telling his colleagues about Trump’s request, Johnson reportedly reportedly tried to give it a shot by mentioning the idea to then-Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell.
CNN reported on Wednesday that the State Department inspector general’s office opened an investigation last fall into the incident and Johnson’s conduct in general, prior to State Department Inspector General Steve Linick’s abrupt ouster, and has drawn up a report on the agency’s findings that has not yet been published. The OIG also investigated allegations that Johnson had made deeply racist and misogynistic remarks to and about embassy officials.
A U.K. government spokesperson told TPM in an emailed statement that Johnson and Mundell had discussed “a number of issues” during the conversation “reflecting the close cultural and economic ties between Scotland and the USA.”
Johnson made “no request regarding the British Open” during their discussion, the spokesperson said.
Lewis Lukens, a career diplomat who was serving as Johnson’s second-in-command at the time, was alarmed by the situation and flagged it to several State Department officials via email, according to the Times.
It is unclear why Trump reportedly believed the U.K. government could fulfill his request; the British Open is organized by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (aka the R&A), a private group.