The State Department bureau that oversees discrimination and harassment complaints quietly closed its investigation into allegations of racist and sexist behavior by former President Donald Trump’s then-ambassador to the United Kingdom, Robert “Woody” Johnson in January, CNN has learned.
According to an internal memo sent on January 12, eight days before Trump left office, the State Department’s Office of Civil Rights found the allegations related to “race, sex and religion” to be “unsubstantiated,” though they had been documented in a review by the department’s independent inspector general, which was first reported by CNN.
A former State Department official provided the internal document, which the State Department declined to make public at CNN’s request.
The State Department declined to comment on personnel matters.
While the independent inspector general suggested in an August 2020 finding that “a more thorough review by the Department is warranted,” the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian affairs resisted that recommendation.
The bureau argued that the ambassador had viewed the Office of Civil Rights video on workplace harassment and suggested that instead of a formal assessment of Johnson’s compliance with Department Equal Employment Opportunity or leadership policies, it would work with all staff, including the ambassador, to provide advice and additional training “to heighten awareness on these important issues.”
The inspector general acknowledged the bureau’s work on training staff but said that did not address the calls for an assessment of Johnson’s behavior. The IG said it would consider its recommendation for a probe into Johnson unresolved until the bureau fulfilled its requirement to present a written final decision on the matter based on an investigation.
The final, one-paragraph memo about Johnson, the billionaire owner of the New York Jets and a longtime Trump friend, was dated January 12 and marked “sensitive but unclassified.” It was addressed to Brian Bulatao, a political appointee who was Undersecretary of State for Management to then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It bears what appears to be Bulatao’s signature.
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