President Donald Trump and U.S. Ambassador to Britain Woody Johnson look out from Winfield House on June 3, 2019. Winfield House is the ambassador's official residence. File Photo by Shealah Craighead/The White House/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 12 (UPI) -- A watchdog report on Wednesday concluded that President Donald Trump's ambassador to Britain, one of the top diplomats of any U.S. administration, has made improper comments during his tenure in London on sensitive topics including race, religion and sex.
The State Department Inspector General said in the report that Robert "Woody" Johnson, who was appointed by Trump in 2017, also alienated U.S. Embassy staffers in London with his "hard-driving" style and implied threats to replace them if they disagreed with his opinions.
The 43-page report added that Johnson, the billionaire owner of the NFL's New York Jets, sometimes made "inappropriate or insensitive comments" on topics generally considered Equal Employment Opportunity-sensitive, such as religion, sex, or color.
The inspector general found that morale at the embassy was negatively affected because Johnson "sometimes questioned their intentions."
"This caused staff to grow wary of providing him with their best judgment," the report states.
Johnson denied making inappropriate comments when they were first reported last month.
News reports specified that Johnson held meetings at a men-only club in London, said he preferred hiring women because they work harder for less pay and questioned the need for Black History Month.
"I have followed the ethical rules and requirements of my office at all times," Johnson tweeted in response to the accusations. "These false claims of insensitive remarks about race and gender are totally inconsistent with my longstanding record and values."
The inspector general's office, now led by Diana Shaw after the abrupt resignation this month by Stephen Akard, recommended that Johnson's compliance with ethical standards be reviewed by the State Department's Bureau of Europe and Eurasian Affairs.
Johnson "respectfully disagreed" with the recommendation.
"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," he said in a written response that was part of Wednesday's report.
The bureau also disagreed with the recommendation for a review, saying Johnson "is well aware of his responsibility to set the right tone for his mission and we believe his actions demonstrate that."
"We stand by Ambassador Johnson and look forward to him continuing to ensure our special relationship with the U.K. is strong," and embassy spokesman told The Hill.
The report made 21 other recommendations related to the inspector general's investigation.