Originally posted on July 22, 2020
A story came out in the New York Times and The Week about Trump asking his ambassador to Britain, Robert Wood Johnson IV, to see if he could get the British government to help get the British Open golf tournament moved to a golf course Trump owned, Turnberry. It never came to fruition but in addition to showing Trump’s utter contempt for ethics rules it did leave some wreckage.
Johnson is, like a lot of ambassadors, a political appointee. He is a businessman and a major donor to republican circles. His deputy, Lewis Lukens, a career diplomat, aware of the ethical problems, urged him not to do it. Apparently Johnson did make some overtures to David Mundell, who was the Secretary of State for Scotland, but it never got very far.
At the time Lukens reported the problem up the State Department chain, but apparently those reports were never acted upon. Lukens himself was dismissed from his position several months later after having the temerity to praise Obama in a speech he gave.
There are two patterns at work here, both of them are seriously damaging to the interests of the U.S. First is the obvious attempt at corruption. While moving the Open to a Trump-owned golf course may not be such an earth-shattering deal, that sort of corruption eats away at the sense of trust that is necessary for any democracy to function. Second is Trump’s efforts to hollow out the diplomatic corps and install his own sycophants. Here’s a more detailed account of Lukens dismissal along with a broader accounting of Trump’s actions.
Oh, and while we’re on golf, I came across a New York Times scoreboard of how many times Trump has visited one of his properties, no doubt incurring some taxpayer-supported expenses for security, lodging etc. As I recall, Trump criticized Obama for playing golf. This appears to be one more case of projection, as Trump has played golf far more often than Obama ever did, and has spent far more of our money doing so. And, unlike Obama, he personally profits from his golfing.