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WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday he would “no longer deal” with Britain’s ambassador to Washington after the key envoy disparaged him as “inept,” “insecure” and “incompetent,” and his administration as “uniquely dysfunctional.”
“I do not know the Ambassador,” Trump said on Twitter about diplomat Kim Darroch, “but he is not liked or well thought of within the U.S.”
Later Monday, a White House official confirmed reports that Darroch was uninvited from a dinner that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was hosting with Trump and the emir of Qatar.
When VOA asked whether a formal note has been or is being sent to the British Embassy in response, the White House referred VOA to the State Department, which referred VOA back to the White House.
Meanwhile, Britain was scrambling to find the source of a leak of Darroch’s diplomatic cables from Washington back to his homeland.
London, long the U.S.’s closest ally, was embarrassed by the disclosure of the unflattering assessments of Trump made by its top envoy to Washington since 2016, but did not deny their accuracy after they were published in Britain over the weekend.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman, James Slack, told reporters, “Contact has been made with the Trump administration, setting out our view that we believe the leak is unacceptable. It is, of course, a matter of regret that this has happened.”
Trade Minister Liam Fox, who is visiting Washington, told BBC radio that he would apologize to Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and one of his advisers, who he is due to meet.
“I will be apologizing for the fact that either our civil service or elements of our political class have not lived up to the expectations that either we have or the United States has about their behavior, which in this particular case has lapsed in a most extraordinary and unacceptable way,” he said. “Malicious leaks of this nature … can actually lead to a damage to that relationship, which can therefore affect our wider security interest.”
The leaked cables were intended for the eyes of senior British ministers and civil servants, but officials believe the leaker will be found among British politicians or officials, not a foreign government.
It is possible the leaker could be charged with violating the country’s Official Secrets Act, which bars disclosure of classified material, although prosecutions are rare.
Slack said May had “full faith” in Darroch, but did not agree with his assessment of Trump and his presidency. Slack said overseas envoys were hired to provide “honest, unvarnished assessments” of the politics and officials in the countries where they serve.
One of Darroch’s cables, a collection from 2017 to recent weeks, said, “We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.”
After first learning of Darroch’s comments, Trump said the ambassador “has not served the U.K. well, I can tell you that. We are not big fans of that man.”