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Johnson (center) at Downing Street during President Trump's state visit to the U.K. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. Woody Johnson made "inappropriate or insensitive comments" in the workplace on topics "such as religion, sex, or color," according to a report from the State Department's Inspector General's Office.

Why it matters: Johnson, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune who owns the New York Jets football team, has been under scrutiny for his behavior as ambassador, including reportedly attempting to help steer the British Open golf tournament to one of President Trump's courses.

Details: The inspector general report doesn't address those claims, but finds that Johnson's leadership style at times harmed morale at the embassy.

  • In addition to the "inappropriate or insensitive comments," the report finds that when staff resisted Johnson's suggestions, "he sometimes questioned their intentions or implied that he might have them replaced."
  • "This caused staff to grow wary of providing him with their best judgment," the report notes, citing interviews with staff members.

The report also addresses Johnson's poor relations with his former deputy, a career diplomat named Lewis Lukens, which it says harmed "mission morale."

  • Johnson had Lukens removed after "speeches in which he praised the Obama administration," per AP.
  • Lukens has since said that he raised concerns about Johnson's alleged lobbying over the British Open with State Department officials.

Johnson has denied any wrongdoing, and responded specifically to the report's recommendation that his comments be reviewed "for compliance with Department Equal Employment Opportunity" and other policies.

  • "If I have unintentionally offended anyone in the execution of my duties, I deeply regret that, but I do not accept that I have treated employees with disrespect or discriminated in any way," Johnson wrote.
  • He added that morale at the embassy was now "better than ever."

Go deeper: State Department IG finds Saudi arms sales were legal but didn't weigh civilian casualties

Go deeper

Oct 16, 2020 - World

Boris Johnson says U.K. must prepare for no-deal Brexit

Photo: David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that the U.K. must prepare for a no-deal split from the European Union, unless the bloc offers a "fundamental" change in its negotiations, AP reports.

What he's saying: "As far as I can see they have abandoned the idea of a free trade deal. ... Unless there is a fundamental change of approach we are going to go for the Australia solution," Johnson said, referencing Australia's lack of a substantive trade deal with the EU.

53 mins ago - World

Netanyahu campaigns against Biden's plan to save Iran deal

Netanyahu campaigns at a gym last month. Photo: Pool/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indirectly criticized the Biden administration for its intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal and told his supporters he was prepared to "stand against the entire world" to stop it.

Why it matters: This is a major change of tune for Netanyahu, who had been careful in his statements on the Iran deal and avoided publicly criticizing President Biden. The statement was part of Netanyahu's attempt to rally his base ahead of Israel's election on March 23.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Tech: "Fludemic" model accurately maps COVID hotspotsVirtual doctor's visits and digital health tools take off.
  2. Politics: Schumer says Senate will stay through weekend to vote on COVID relief — Republican governor of West Virginia says there's no plan to lift mask mandate.
  3. World: Canada vaccine panel recommends 4 months between doses.
  4. Business: Firms develop new ways to inoculate the public.
  5. Local: Ultra-rich Florida community got vaccinations in January.