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
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
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…