Trump ambassador to UK and Jets team owner Woody Johnson fought against report of inappropriate comments

Frank Schwab
·2-min read
A close-up of Woody Johnson.
United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom Woody Johnson was investigated for allegations of inappropriate comments. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

New York Jets co-owner Woody Johnson denied he made disparaging remarks about Black people and women in his role as United States ambassador to Britain. And he urged State Department investigators against publicly reporting the allegations.

The New York Times wrote about the final report from the State Department’s Office of Inspector General after reviewing Johnson’s conduct, which said staff at the American Embassy in London reported “inappropriate or insensitive comments” by Johnson that may have included references to “religion, sex, or color.”

The Times included that the senior diplomat in Washington overseeing issues in Europe would not open a new investigation because “Johnson has since watched a video about workplace harassment and could receive additional training to prevent violations of employees’ civil rights.”

Woody Johnson’s behavior criticized

In addition to inappropriate and insensitive comments about religion, sex or color, The Times reported that staffers said Johnson suggested they were disloyal to President Donald Trump or the United States when they resisted Johnson’s orders. The Times said the staff was wary after that of offering advice and Johnson’s management style contributed to low morale.

Johnson bought the Jets in January 2000. Since then the Jets have won one division title and have not made a Super Bowl. The Jets haven’t made a Super Bowl since the 1968 season. Only the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns have a longer drought.

“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,” Johnson wrote in his response to inspectors, according to The Times.

Report had disturbing details

The most disturbing passage in The Times’ new story on the report concerning Johnson said he disparaged a Black female diplomat’s efforts to schedule events for Black History Month, asking her if he’d have to talk to an audience that was “just a bunch of Black people.”

Johnson said he didn’t agree that he may have violated the civil rights of any embassy employee and since no employee had filed a formal complaint against him, inspectors should reconsider “including the recommendation in the final report and concluding that my actions have negatively affected morale.”

The NFL has not commented on Johnson, other than to direct inquiries to the state department when the accusations were initially reported in late July.

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