Trump administration inept, UK’s ambassador to Washington says

Donald Trump's White House is "uniquely dysfunctional" and "inept", according to leaked memos from the UK's ambassador in Washington.

The documents detail Sir Kim Darroch's assessments of the Trump administration from 2017 to the present – and could prove highly embarrassing for the Foreign Office.

But officials insisted the relationship with the White House could withstand the "mischievous behaviour" of the leak and defended Sir Kim's candid style.

Taoiseach visits United States of America
Sir Kim Darroch, the UK's ambassador to the US (Niall Carson/PA)

The diplomatic memos, obtained by the Mail on Sunday, suggest that in order to communicate with the president "you need to make your points simple, even blunt".

In the cache of documents, Sir Kim gives a scathing assessment of the White House: "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."

He questioned whether the White House "will ever look competent".

Following Mr Trump's state visit to the UK in June, Sir Kim warned that although the president had been "dazzled" by the pomp and ceremony of the trip, his administration would remain self-interested and "this is still the land of America First".

In one of the most recent documents, Sir Kim refers to "incoherent, chaotic" US policy on Iran and questions Mr Trump's publicly stated reason for calling off a retaliatory air strike against Tehran following the downing of an American drone.

The US and Iran have been at the brink of armed conflict over tensions in the Gulf, and Mr Trump stated that he called off a planned air strike with minutes to spare because of the potentially high number of casualties.

But Sir Kim said that the explanation "doesn't stand up", and suggested it may have been motivated by Mr Trump's focus on the 2020 re-election campaign and his previous promises not to involve the US in foreign conflicts.

"It's more likely that he was never fully on board and that he was worried about how this apparent reversal of his 2016 campaign promises would look come 2020," Sir Kim said.

He said it was "unlikely that US policy on Iran is going to become more coherent any time soon" as "this is a divided administration".

In a particularly sensitive leak, a 2017 letter to the National Security Adviser Sir Mark Sedwill – sent 150 days into the Trump administration – laid bare the trouble in the White House.

Media reports of "vicious infighting and chaos" were "mostly true" despite the president's attempts to brush them off.

Referring to the early allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, the memo said "the worst cannot be ruled out".

A lengthy investigation by Robert Mueller published earlier this year cleared the Trump team of the collusion allegations.

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US President Donald Trump (L) and First Lady Melania Trump leave after attending the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, July 4, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump applauds next to first lady Melania Trump at the "Salute to America" event during Fourth of July Independence Day celebrations at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., U.S., July 4, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump departs with first lady Melania Trump during the Fourth of July Celebration 'Salute to America' event in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, July 4, 2019. The White House said Trump's message won't be political -- Trump is calling the speech a "Salute to America" -- but it comes as the 2020 campaign is heating up. Photographer: Al Drago/Sipa USA
Attendees cheer as Blue Angel fighter jets fly overheard as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the Fourth of July Celebration 'Salute to America' event in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, July 4, 2019. The White House said Trump's message won't be political -- Trump is calling the speech a "Salute to America" -- but it comes as the 2020 campaign is heating up. Photographer: Al Drago/Sipa USA
Blue Angel fighter jets fly overheard as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the Fourth of July Celebration 'Salute to America' event in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, July 4, 2019. The White House said Trump's message won't be political -- Trump is calling the speech a "Salute to America" -- but it comes as the 2020 campaign is heating up. Photographer: Al Drago/Sipa USA
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive to the "Salute to America" ceremony in front of the Lincoln Memorial, on July 4, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Oliver Contreras/SIPA USA)
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump participate during the Fourth of July Celebration 'Salute to America' event in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, July 4, 2019. The White House said Trump's message won't be political -- Trump is calling the speech a "Salute to America" -- but it comes as the 2020 campaign is heating up. Photographer: Al Drago/Sipa USA
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump looks at Tiffany Trump as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence listen as U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, speaks during the Fourth of July Celebration 'Salute to America' event in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, July 4, 2019. The White House said Trump's message won't be political -- Trump is calling the speech a "Salute to America" -- but it comes as the 2020 campaign is heating up. Photographer: Al Drago/Sipa USA
First Lady Melania Trump at the National Mall in Washington, DC on July 4, 2019. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA)
US First Lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence applaud during the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, July 4, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump speaks during the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, July 4, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 4: Amber and Jon, of Indiana, who declined to give their last names, sit in the shade at Entrance C two and a half hours before the gates open to go into a ticketed area before the Independence Day festivities on the National Mall and the Salute to America event celebrating the Fourth of July in Washington, DC on July 4, 2019. (Photo by Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 4 : President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump depart after participating in an Independence Day Fourth of July Celebration 'Salute to America' event in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall on Thursday, July 4th, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 4: A "Baby Trump" inflatable is set up by Code Pink on the National Mall during the Independence Day festivities and before the Salute to America event celebrating the Fourth of July in Washington, DC on July 4, 2019. "This has become a symbol of Trump at his worst," Code Pink volunteer Paki Wieland of Massachusetts said. "The Fourth of July has been a holiday so to turn it into a partisan event called for a response and this is our response." (Photo by Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 4: A "Baby Trump" inflatable is set up by Code Pink on the National Mall during the Independence Day festivities and before the Salute to America event celebrating the Fourth of July in Washington, DC on July 4, 2019. "This has become a symbol of Trump at his worst," Code Pink volunteer Paki Wieland of Massachusetts said. "The Fourth of July has been a holiday so to turn it into a partisan event called for a response and this is our response." (Photo by Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 4: Betty-Ann Lang, right, and her sister Deborah Sheldon, both of Rhode Island, sit and wait for the events to start near the Lincoln Memorial, which is blocked off before the Salute to America event and during the Independence Day festivities on the National Mall celebrating the Fourth of July in Washington, DC on July 4, 2019. They set up at around 10:30am to get a good spot and plan to stay all day through the fireworks tonight. Sheldon got their matching shirts online. (Photo by Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - 2019/07/04: Activists hold placards with different slogans during the protest. Coinciding with The Fourth of July anniversary, around 50 Americans in Madrid marched in central city to protest against the Trump administration's immigration policies. (Photo by John Milner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, D C , UNITED STATES - 2019/07/04: The crowd waiting for President Donald Trump to speak at the National Mall in Washington, DC during the Independence Day on July 4. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - The Blue Angels (six F-18s) fly overhead as people gather on the National Mall for the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event with US President Donald Trump at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, July 4, 2019. (Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
People sit atop a WWII memorial as they gather on the National Mall for the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event with US President Donald Trump at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, July 4, 2019. (Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather on the National Mall for the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event with US President Donald Trump at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, July 4, 2019. (Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump is shown on a screen as he speaks during the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, July 4, 2019. (Photo by Alastair Pike / AFP) (Photo credit should read ALASTAIR PIKE/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: People watch the fireworks display on the National Mall during Fourth of July festivities on July 4, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump is holding a "Salute to America" celebration on the National Mall on Independence Day this year with musical performances, a military flyover, and fireworks. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: People watch the fireworks display on the National Mall during Fourth of July festivities on July 4, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump is holding a "Salute to America" celebration on the National Mall on Independence Day this year with musical performances, a military flyover, and fireworks. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - The Blue Angels (six F-18s) fly overhead as people gather on the National Mall during the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event with US President Donald Trump at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, July 4, 2019. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Helicopters fly overhead during the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event with US President Donald Trump at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, July 4, 2019. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
The Blue Angels (six F-18s) fly overhead as people gather on the National Mall during the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event with US President Donald Trump at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, July 4, 2019. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
A "Trump Baby" baloon (R) is seen as people gather on the National Mall during the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event with US President Donald Trump at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, July 4, 2019. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: A fireworks display follows the "Salute to America" ceremony in front of the Lincoln Memorial, on July 4, 2019 in Washington, DC. The presentation featured armored vehicles on display, a flyover by Air Force One, and several flyovers by other military aircraft. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: A fireworks display follows the "Salute to America" ceremony in front of the Lincoln Memorial, on July 4, 2019 in Washington, DC. The presentation featured armored vehicles on display, a flyover by Air Force One, and several flyovers by other military aircraft. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: A fireworks display follows the "Salute to America" ceremony in front of the Lincoln Memorial, on July 4, 2019 in Washington, DC. The presentation featured armored vehicles on display, a flyover by Air Force One, and several flyovers by other military aircraft. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: An armored military vehicle is seen during a fireworks display that followed the "Salute to America" ceremony in front of the Lincoln Memorial, on July 4, 2019 in Washington, DC. The presentation featured armored vehicles on display, a flyover by Air Force One, and several flyovers by other military aircraft. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: Fireworks go off over the Lincoln Memorial on July 04, 2019 in Washington, DC. The fireworks display concludes the day's Fourth of July festivities which included President Trump's "Salute to America." (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: Guests watch fireworks go off over the Lincoln Memorial on July 04, 2019 in Washington, DC. The fireworks display concludes the day's Fourth of July festivities which included President Trump's "Salute to America." (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump take the stage on July 04, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump is holding a "Salute to America" celebration on the National Mall on Independence Day this year with musical performances, a military flyover, and fireworks. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: President Donald Trump watches a flyover on July 04, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump is holding a "Salute to America" celebration on the National Mall on Independence Day this year with musical performances, a military flyover, and fireworks. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: Media cover President Donald Trump as he watches a flyover on July 04, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump is holding a "Salute to America" celebration on the National Mall on Independence Day this year with musical performances, a military flyover, and fireworks. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, among others, wave to the crowd during the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, July 4, 2019. (Photo by Susan Walsh / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read SUSAN WALSH/AFP/Getty Images)
Guest cheer as US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive for the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, July 4, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump speaks during the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, July 4, 2019. (Photo by Susan Walsh / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read SUSAN WALSH/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: A military fly over is seen on the National Mall while President Donald Trump gives his speech during Fourth of July festivities on July 4, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump is holding a "Salute to America" celebration on the National Mall on Independence Day this year with musical performances, a military flyover, and fireworks. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: The Lincoln Memorial is seen on the National Mall while President Donald Trump gives his speech during Fourth of July festivities on July 4, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump is holding a "Salute to America" celebration on the National Mall on Independence Day this year with musical performances, a military flyover, and fireworks. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: A woman with a red, white and blue umbrella is seen on the National Mall while President Donald Trump gives his speech during Fourth of July festivities on July 4, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump is holding a "Salute to America" celebration on the National Mall on Independence Day this year with musical performances, a military flyover, and fireworks. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
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A Foreign Office spokesman said: "The British public would expect our ambassadors to provide ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their country.

"Their views are not necessarily the views of ministers or indeed the Government.

"But we pay them to be candid. Just as the US ambassador here will send back his reading of Westminster politics and personalities.

"Of course we would expect such advice to be handled by ministers and civil servants in the right way, and it's important that our ambassadors can offer their advice and for it remain confidential.

"Our team in Washington have strong relations with the White House and no doubt... these will withstand such mischievous behaviour."

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