Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson is the billionaire scion of the Johnson & Johnson fortune and an owner of the NFL’s New York Jets.
He’s also currently the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, one of the plum positions typically awarded to major financial contributors to the president who distribute ambassadorships as patronage for the political and financial support the appointees have provided them.
Johnson has been in the news lately after it was discovered that he used his official diplomatic position to try to convince British government officials to move the British Open to Trump’s Turnberry golf resort to unethically and illegally line the president’s pockets.
Today, CNN is reporting that the solicitation of emoluments is not the only offense allegedly committed by the UK ambassador being investigated by the State Department’s Inspector General. The government watchdog is also investigating reports that Johnson made a number of racist and sexist remarks in the presence of State Department staff — comments described as “cringeworthy” by insiders familiar with the probe.
“He’s said some pretty sexist, racist,” things, a State Department diplomat with knowledge of the allegations made to the Inspector General said about Johnson, according to the cable news network.
When asked about the accusations against him, Ambassador Johnson pointedly failed to deny them.
Instead, he rambled on about what an “honor of a lifetime” it was “to lead the talented, diverse team of the U.S. Mission to the United Kingdom,” calling them “the best in diplomacy” and saying, “I greatly value the extraordinary work that each and every member of the team does to strengthen and deepen our vital alliance.”
The White House refused comment, referring journalists to the State Department which is reportedly investigating his actions.
A Department spokesperson would only say that Johnson was “a valued member of the team who has led Mission UK honorably and professionally.”
“We stand by Ambassador Johnson and look forward to him continuing to ensure our special relationship with the UK is strong,” that spokesperson told CNN.
it’s an interesting statement coming from a department that has reportedly been investigating Johnson since the fall of last year after staff in the UK embassy “told investigators that Johnson made remarks — often casually bandied about — that they found deeply offensive and demoralizing,” according to CNN‘s sources.
One example given concerns comments that Johnson made in 2018 as the embassy was set to launch an event for Black History Month as is typical of U.S. embassies worldwide.
Appearing agitated by the discussion of the event, Johnson reportedly questioned whether the audience would be “a whole bunch of Black people” before launching into a racist tirade asking why African Americans would even want a month dedicated to their history and lamenting aloud that the “real challenge” to African Americans was his belief that Black men abandoned their families, seemingly unaware that many of those separations are due to our country’s mass incarceration policies that disproportionately affect African American males.
Pretty racist stuff coming from a man who earns beaucoup bucks from a team of predominantly African American men.
But let’s not forget the allegations of sexism, which range from Johnson’s habit of hosting official gatherings at exclusive men’s only private clubs that prevented any of the female diplomatic staff from attending to his offensive routine of remarking about how many pretty women were attending his public events in a manner deemed demeaning and “cringe-worthy” when added to his stated preference to work with women because they were cheaper and worked harder than men.
Johnson even raised objections to the embassy’s plans to hold an event for International Women’s Day, asking why he had to be involved in “a feminist event.” Somehow embassy staff managed to stage the event over his objections.
Was the investigation of Ambassador Johnson one of the factors involved in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s firing of Inspector General Steve Linick in May of this year?
Only time — and a congressional inquiry — will tell.
In the meantime, it’s not unexpected that the worst president in all U.S. history would appoint people who are cut from the same corrupt and offensive cloth as himself.
If we want to see an improvement in the quality of our diplomatic appointments we must rid the White House of Donald Trump as soon as humanly possible.
It’s amazing how many of the country’s ills that one simple act will solve.
Original reporting by Jennifer Hansler, Kylie Atwood, and Nicole Gaouette at CNN.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.