The IG report also found that some embassy staff “were impacted by the Ambassador’s demanding, hard driving work style,” which it stated “had a negative effect on morale in some embassy sections.”
The revelations from the department’s independent watchdog come after CNN reported last month that Johnson, a prominent Republican donor and heir to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune, was investigated by the inspector general for his alleged remarks, as well as for allegedly using his official position to attempt to benefit the president’s personal business interests in the U.K.
The New York Times also reported last month that Johnson had discussed with Scotland’s secretary of state in 2018 the possibility of hosting the British Open golf tournament at the Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland. Johnson told colleagues at the time that the president had asked him to help secure the choice of venue, the Times reported.
Johnson issued an apparent response to the media reports in a tweet last month, writing that he had “followed the ethical rules and requirements of my office at all times. These false claims of insensitive remarks about race and gender are totally inconsistent with my longstanding record and values.”
The ambassador was similarly reluctant to acknowledge any wrongdoing in Wednesday’s IG report, which recommended that the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs — in coordination with the Office of Civil Rights — assess Johnson’s “compliance with Department Equal Employment Opportunity or leadership policies” and, “based on the results of the review, take appropriate action.”
In Johnson’s response to a draft of the IG report, which he sent to the inspector general’s office in May, the ambassador asserted that throughout his government tenure, “and indeed for the entirety of my professional life,” he had “respected both the law and the spirit of EEO principles and have ensured that all employees under my direction do the same.”
“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. My objective is to lead the highly talented team at Mission UK to execute the President’s policies and to do so in a way that is respectful of our differences, with zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind,” Johnson wrote.
“In order to address the concerns documented in your report, perceived or real, I have reviewed an S/OCR course on discrimination in the workplace and have instructed the entire Mission UK country team to do the same, with 100% compliance by the end of May,” he continued.
But Johnson wrote that “I respectfully disagree” with the IG report’s recommendation for an assessment of his EEO compliance, and the inspector general’s office stated that the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs also “disagreed with this recommendation” in its own response to the draft IG report last month.
“The bureau stated, that given the concern expressed, the Ambassador has viewed the Office of Civil Rights video on workplace harassment and has instructed all section and agency heads to do the same. He has also encouraged all staff to take the Foreign Service Institute training on mitigating unconscious bias,” according to the final IG report.
“The bureau also represented that the Ambassador ‘is well aware of his responsibility to set the right tone for his mission and we believe his actions demonstrate that,’” the IG report states, and the bureau “reported it did not believe a formal assessment was required.”
Instead, the bureau “proposed that, in coordination with the embassy, it would instead work with the Office of Civil Rights to provide advice and additional training to all staff, including the Chief of Mission, to heighten awareness on these important issues.”
Replying to the responses from Johnson and the bureau, the inspector general’s office stated that it “considers the recommendation unresolved,” and argued that the embassy’s actions and the bureau’s proposal “do not address the recommendation” outlined in the IG report.
The investigation by the inspector general’s office was conducted from September-December 2019, according to the IG report, and it did not appear to address the allegations against Johnson regarding Trump’s Scotland resort.