Sir Kim Darroch has been Britain’s ambassador to the US since January 2016, and is ranked as one of the UK’s top diplomats. (Unlike the US, Britain sends professionals to its major postings.) Part of his job is to provide accurate and unvarnished analyses of his host country back to the home office, analyses which are supposed to kept secret. But someone leaked Sir Kim’s unvarnished observations of Trump to the UK Daily Mail — and they are not, shall we say, flattering to our thin-skinned Dear Leader. In an early assessment, in the summer of 2017, Sir Kim wrote:
As seen from here, we really don't believe that this Administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional, less unpredictable, less faction-riven, less diplomatically clumsy and inept.
The Daily Mail lists says some of the other memos:
- Describes bitter conflicts within Trump's White House – verified by his own sources – as 'knife fights';
- Warns that Trump could have been indebted to 'dodgy Russians';
- Claims the President's economic policies could wreck the world trade system;
- Says the scandal-hit Presidency could 'crash and burn' and that 'we could be at the beginning of a downward spiral… that leads to disgrace and downfall';
- Voices fears that Trump could still attack Iran.
The Ambassador advised the UK to cultivate relationships with Trump’s “Cabinet, the White House staff, and our contacts among his outside friends,” and that Teresa May should call him frequently as he “likes and respects her,” and —
The diplomat's third pointer was to urge Britain's politicians and officials to use flattery and to pander to the President's ego when they come into contact with him.
'You need to start praising him for something that he's done recently,' he advised. 'You need whenever possible to present them as wins for him.' In comments which could be viewed as highly patronising, Sir Kim also advised his bosses to make their points 'simple' and 'even blunt', adding: 'as a senior White House adviser told me, there is no upside with this President in being subtle, let alone ambiguous.'
As to why this leaked now, the Daily Mail suggests there may be infighting and low morale at the Foreign Office over Brexit, “with officials who privately support Brexit accusing the Civil Service of trying to stop the UK leaving the EU.”
British newspapers, including The Independent, the Telegraph (firewall), and the Daily Mirror have picked up the story. (All of the British papers note Sir Kim’s 2017 assessment that Trump might have colluded or cooperated with the Russians, but each paper claimed — incorrectly, as we know — that the Mueller report absolved him.) So far, the Washington Examiner is the only US newspaper that has spotted the story — and interestingly, especially for a right-wing outfit, they reported the cable on suspected collusion without mentioning the Mueller report. The Huffington Post and Political Wire also have the story.
The Ambassador had sent a senior diplomat to observe Trump’s rally at Orlando and reported that the crowd’s enthusiasm for him was undimmed, and that while Trump faces an uphill battle to win reelection, he could still pull it off.
One last quote, from a recent memo about Iran:
Darroch skewered Trump's response to the attacks against two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and the shooting-down of a U.S. Navy drone, for which the U.S. has blamed Iran. “Its unlikely that US policy on Iran is going to become more coherent any time soon. This is a divided Administration,” the diplomat said. He also said of Trump's 11th-hour decision not to carry out a retaliatory strike against Iran, “It's more likely that he was never fully on board and that he was worried about how this apparent reversal of his 2016 campaign promises would look come 2020.”
Breaking: As I was finishing this diary, CNN now has this story as its top headline: Cables from UK's Ambassador to the US blast Trump as 'inept,' 'incompetent' published 5 minutes ago. They have the first response from the White House: no comment.