Foreign Policy

Anti-Trump Cable Scandal: What did the Leaked Emails Say?

Leaked email cables sent by the United Kingdom ambassador to the United States reveal that the ambassador made some disparaging remarks about United States President Donald Trump. 

The emails came from Sir Kim Darroch, one of the most senior diplomats in the UK. Darroch referred to the President by several negative adjectives, including “incompetent” and “inept,” according to the cables published by British tabloid The Daily Mail. One cable said, “For a man who has risen to the highest office on the planet, President Trump radiates insecurity.” 

The 65-year-old diplomat was critical of Trump and his legacy in the messages, which should have been for the British government’s eyes only. One missive included the note, “we don’t really believe this Administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less predictable; less faction driven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.”

Darroch, who once served as British Ambassador to the European Union, was working as the national security adviser for the UK before he was sent to Washington in 2016, where he has been ever since. Darroch was expected to return from Washington and officially retire at the end of the year, but this retirement may have been pushed forward by the latest scandal. 

After Donald Trump was made president, he made it clear he would have liked Nigel Farage, the leader of Brexit, to take over for Darroch. The timing of the leak is bad for Darroch as Boris Johnson, who has never hidden his admiration for Trump, is set to become the British Prime Minister when Theresa May steps down in the summer. 

The cables, which span the entirety of the Trump presidency so far, suggest that the White House is filled with infighting. Darroch said that Trump had lived a life “mired in scandal”. He also suggested that those dealing with the president should “make your points simple, even blunt”. 

Despite all of the criticism, Darroch did urge British officials to “not write him off”, saying there was still the chance that Trump could “emerge from the flames, battered but intact”. He also suggested that Donald Trump had a “credible path” to re-election in 2020.

Following Trump’s recent visit to the UK, Darroch warned that London may be the “flavor of the month” for President Trump and that “this is still the land of America First.”

Darroch was also critical of Trump’s inability to deliver on promises he made during his election campaign, writing; “Of the main campaign promises, not an inch of the Wall has been built; the executive orders on travel bans from Muslim countries have been blocked by the state courts; tax reform and the infrastructure package have been pushed into the middle distance; and the repeal and replacement of Obamacare is on a knife-edge.”

The ambassador was also critical of how Trump responded to the attacks on the two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and the destruction of a United States Navy drone, which the U.S blamed on Iran. “It’s unlikely that U.S policy on Iran is going to become more coherent any time soon. This is a divided Administration.” He said. He also spoke of the last-minute decision to not hit Iran with a retaliatory strike, saying “It's more likely that he was never fully on board and that he was worried about how this apparent reversal of his 2016 campaign promises would look come 2020."

When speaking of the allegations that Trump conspired with the Russian government to secure his election, Darroch said before the Mueller investigation was completed that “the worst cannot be ruled out” and that the Trump White House had been “dogged from day one by stories of vicious infighting and chaos inside the White House, and swamped by scandals – one way or another, linked to Russia.” 

In an unusual move, the British Foreign Office has released a statement distancing itself from Darroch. They suggested that Darroch’s judgments of President Trump, which are shared by many at the top of the British government, were all his own. "The British public would expect our Ambassadors to provide Ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their country," a statement said.

"Their views are not necessarily the views of Ministers or indeed the government. But we pay them to be candid. Just as the US Ambassador here will send back his reading of Westminster politics and personalities. Of course, we would expect such advice to be handled by Ministers and civil servants in the right way and it's important that our Ambassadors can offer their advice and for it to remain confidential. Our team in Washington have strong relations with the White House and no doubt that these will withstand such mischievous behavior," it said.

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