Diplomatic cables are known treasure troves of frank analysis and insight into the inner workings of governments. Normally protected by confidentiality, these memos offer some of the best observations of local business, politics, and other happenings in the countries where diplomats work.
British newspaper The Mail on Sunday has published comments it says are from leaked diplomatic cables written by Sir Kim Darroch, a top diplomat and Britain’s ambassador to the U.S., based in Washington, DC. The comments are less than flattering toward Donald Trump and his administration, and confirm what most of Trump’s constituents already know: The U.S. president and his administration are a disaster.
It is highly unusual for cables from such a top U.K. diplomat to be publicly leaked.
Per the Mail, Darroch:
- 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.
Here’s another key passage: “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.”
Neither do we.
Darroch, who at 65 is expected to retire soon as his government transitions into new leadership, also offered a sober warning to his colleagues: Don’t write Trump off; meaning, the strong possibility exists that Trump could be reelected in 2020.
As NBC News noted in its own report on the leaks, the network was unable to independently confirm or view the cables, which date from 2017 when Trump took office to the present day. But the reaction by the British government, which was focused on denouncing the leaks rather than discrediting their authenticity, is a hint.
The U.K.’s Foreign Office responded with a statement noting that the public “would expect our Ambassadors to provide Ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their countries.” The office added, “Our team in Washington have strong relations with the White House and no doubt that these will withstand such mischievous behaviour.”
The office told NBC that “a formal leak investigation will now be initiated.”
In a letter to U.K. National Security Adviser Sir Mark Sedwill, Darroch wrote that Trump “radiates insecurity.” And he urged his bosses to ignore Trump’s claims of “Fake News” and believe instead the many news accounts reporting on his administration and their policies.
“The stories about White House knife fights are, we judge, mostly true: multiple sources and confirmed by our own White House contacts. This is a uniquely dysfunctional environment,” he wrote.
He warned that “we could also be at the beginning of a downward spiral, rather than just a rollercoaster: something could emerge that leads to disgrace and downfall.”
In one memo on Russia, Darroch wrote: “There could have been active collusion between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence, especially over the timing of release of hacked emails from inside the Clinton camp. Dodgy Russian financiers may have bailed out the Trump and Kushner enterprises when both were at risk of bankruptcy in previous decades.”
That memo was sent about the time Special Counsel Robert Mueller was launching his investigation into Russian interference in U.S. elections and possible collaboration by the Trump campaign.
Darroch also said that Trump’s attempts to end the Mueller probe could amount to obstruction of justice, but that he “wouldn’t bet” on any of it ending the Trump presidency.
That sounds about right. Cue Trump tweet in 3…2…1…