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Trump's Thin Skin Is Going to Cause (Another) Diplomatic Crisis

The U.K. ambassador called the White House "inept," "insecure," and "incompetent," and Trump's taking that about as well as you'd expect.

by Tim Marcin
Jul 9 2019, 1:22pm

A diplomatic dust-up between the U.S. and the U.K. got uglier on Tuesday, because President Donald Trump just doesn’t seem to be able to let an insult go.

On Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May threw her support behind Sir Kim Darroch, ambassador to the U.S., despite a recent leak of internal memos that were starkly critical of Trump. In response, Trump launched yet another tirade against the ambassador and May.

“The wacky Ambassador that the U.K. foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy,” Trump posted on Tuesday morning. “He should speak to his country, and Prime Minister May, about their failed Brexit negotiation, and not be upset with my criticism of how badly it was handled.”

The leaked messages show Darroch calling Trump "inept," "insecure" and "incompetent." They describe the White House as a “uniquely dysfunctional environment” and predict that Trump could face further “disgrace and downfall.” Darroch’s memos, intended to be confidential, painted a picture of a key ally in chaos.

In response, Trump said Darroch was “not liked or well thought of” and that the U.S. would “no longer deal with him.” He also threw a jab at May, who will soon step down from her post, for how she handled Brexit. But the U.K. responded by reaffirming its support for the ambassador because he was just doing his job as he saw fit.

“We have made clear to the US how unfortunate this leak is,” a government spokesperson said in a statement. “The selective extracts leaked do not reflect the closeness of, and the esteem in which we hold, the relationship. At the same time we have also underlined the importance of ambassadors being able to provide honest, unvarnished assessments of the politics in their country. Sir Kim Darroch continues to have the Prime Minister’s full support.”

The UK’s former Foreign secretary, Lord William Hague, emphasized the importance of frank communication between diplomatic envoys and the leaders of their countries, and predicted that Trump would get along better with the incoming Prime Minister, whoever it is.

"You would never have any honest report from any ambassador in the world if you said: 'Well, if any of their communications are released, we'll then have to remove them from their position,’” Hague told the BBC. "That is well understood by US diplomats... I think there will be a strong enough relationship between a new prime minister and the president to have that conversation."

Still, Trump has never been one to let a slight go, even when a relationship with a crucial ally is on the line. In his outraged tweets on Tuesday, Trump again criticized May for her handling of Brexit, insulted Darroch, and, of course, took a moment to compliment himself.

“I told [May] how to do that deal, but she went her own foolish way-was unable to get it done. A disaster!” he posted, speaking about Brexit. “I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool. Tell him the USA now has the best Economy & Military anywhere in the World, by far and they are both only getting bigger, better and stronger.....Thank you, Mr. President!”

Cover: File photo dated 13/03/18 of the United Kingdom's ambassador to the United States Kim Darroch, as a formal inquiry will take place into the leak of sensitive diplomatic memos detailing the "uniquely dysfunctional" and "inept" White House under Donald Trump. Issue date. Niall Carson/PA Wire URN:43975475 (Press Association via AP Images)