The Trump administration keeps attempting to make the entirety of U.S. foreign and domestic policy operate according to the whims of Donald Trump’s ego. Now, one reporter has shared a disturbing anecdote about just how far the Trump team has gone. Apparently, Lewis Lukens, the now former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in London, was abruptly fired months before he’d been slated to depart his post over — wait for it — mentioning Obama in a speech. Lukens had worked in the State Department for some three decades, which, of course, includes presidents of both major parties. He recounted a story of work across divides from his time in the Obama admin — but that was unacceptable to the Trump team, apparently.
Lukens delivered the remarks that got him booted at a pair of British universities last October, where he told those assembled that they should stick to the “special relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom. Through his repeated belittling of U.K. leadership, Trump has consistently threatened that relationship.
Although the differences are more extreme than what Trump has enacted, Lukens went over a trip then-President Barack Obama took to the African country of Senegal while making his case for cooperation despite differences. He told those assembled:
‘There was incredible excitement. He had a guard of honor, crowds shouting his name, street vendors selling WE LOVE OBAMA T-shirts. It was really amazing. And the president had really great talks with the Senegalese president, Macky Sall. They got on really well. But what I remember most of all was the disagreement they had—as friends.’
The disagreement that Lukens highlighted included Obama working around Senegalese discrimination against LGBTQ people, which an American journalist asked the U.S. president about on the trip. At the time of the 2013 interactions, Lukens was the ambassador to Senegal — in other words, he was a key player in the situation. Even still, the Trump ego-led State Department considered it off limits, apparently.
Reporter Julia Ioffe explains:
‘A week later, Lukens says, his boss, the U.S. ambassador Woody Johnson, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune and a Trump political appointee, told him that he was done, firing Lukens from his post seven months ahead of when he was scheduled to leave for a new assignment. After nearly 30 years as a foreign service officer, his State Department career was over. The reason? Lukens says he had unwittingly committed a fatal error in his speech: He had mentioned former president Barack Obama.’
The debacle indicates just how extreme that the State Department has really gotten in their attempts to enact Trump’s agenda. Current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has gotten criticized for refusing to defend diplomats who Trump has publicly whined about, but it doesn’t end there.
Trump has repeatedly appointed people like Johnson to ambassadorships who have little to no relevant experience warranting the position. Before getting his own position as ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland donated $1 million to the committee handling Trump’s inauguration. Trump’s one-time pick to be Bahamas ambassador, Doug Manchester, even explicitly told RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel that he’d donate more money if he got confirmed right after she first asked for large sums while he awaited confirmation. The corruption continues!