State Department rejects further probe of diplomat's remarks

Wed Aug 12 3:17pm ET
By BEN FOX
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) A report Wednesday by the State Department's internal watchdog confirms news accounts that staffers at the U.S. Embassy in Britain have accused Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets and the U.S. ambassador, of making ''insensitive'' and ''inappropriate'' remarks.

The department's Office of the Inspector General called for further investigation into the allegations against Johnson, a friend and campaign contributor to President Donald Trump.

Johnson denies the allegations. State Department officials replied to the watchdog office that no further investigation is necessary because Johnson is ''well aware of his responsibility to set the right tone for his mission,'' according to the report.

While the Office of the Inspector General said it continues to believe the State Department should further examine Johnson's alleged conduct, the State Department said it considers the matter closed.

''We stand by Ambassador Johnson and look forward to him continuing to ensure our special relationship with the UK is strong,'' it said in a written response to a request for comment on the report.

The report provides no details about the alleged comments by Johnson, which officials learned about during a periodic review of the embassy. It said that employees alleged that the ambassador ''sometimes made inappropriate or insensitive comments on topics generally considered Equal Employment Opportunity sensitive, such as religion, sex, or color.''

Two current U.S. officials told The Associated Press in July that they had witnessed or were aware of behavior by Johnson that colleagues had found to be bullying or demeaning.

One former embassy employee said Johnson's questionable behavior and comments toward and about women and minorities were not isolated and were witnessed by numerous staffers on a weekly, if not daily, basis. That former employee and the other officials were not authorized to discuss the ongoing inspector general report and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The current and former officials said Johnson had questioned the need for events marking Black History Month, which is traditionally commemorated by U.S. diplomatic missions abroad, had hosted embassy events at a private men-only London club against the advice of embassy colleagues, and made disparaging remarks about women's appearances.

Those allegations emerged as Johnson's former deputy at the embassy alleged the ambassador had also tried to intervene with British government officials at the president's request to steer the British Open golf tournament to Trump's Turnberry resort in Scotland.

The investigation report released Wednesday does not address the allegation related to the British Open, which Trump and Johnson have denied.

Johnson told the inspector general investigators that he has throughout his professional life ''respected both the law and the spirit'' of the principles in the department's equal employment opportunity regulations and has ensured that all employees working for him do as well. He said he reviewed a video on workplace conduct after learning of the allegations against him.

He suggested that the watchdog office not include the recommendations related to the alleged remarks in its report, investigators said. They said Johnson cited the lack of any formal complaints against him as ambassador and the ''generally positive tone'' of the broader review of embassy operations.

''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,'' he said.

Johnson, who was confirmed to the ambassador post in August 2017, raised money for Trump's presidential campaign and donated $1 million to the president's inaugural committee. He is chair and CEO of The Johnson Co., a private asset management firm in New York and has owned the Jets football team since 2000.

Player Notes
Julian Edelman Sep 19 12:53am ET

New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman was on the field for five of the 27 offensive snaps played with two receivers against the Miami Dolphins in Week 1. From 2017 to 2019, he was on the field for 41 percent of the snaps in two-receiver sets.

Fantasy Spin: One game isn't a big sample, and Edelman was still New England's most productive receiver in the opener. Fewer snaps would lead to less consistency, but Edelman is going to have WR3 potential regardless.

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Mark Andrews Sep 19 12:43am ET

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Gerald Everett Sep 18 11:33pm ET

Los Angeles Rams TE Gerald Everett (back) is expected to play against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2, according to head coach Sean McVay. 'We put him as questionable, but he ended up going today,' McVay said. 'He felt good. I fully expect him to be ready to go.'

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Doug Middleton Sep 18 11:03pm ET

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Devante Bond Sep 18 10:53pm ET

Free-agent LB Devante Bond (Bears) and OG Dieter Eiselen (Bears) were signed to the practice squad of the Chicago Bears Friday, Sept. 18.

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Mason Schreck Sep 18 10:43pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals TE Mason Schreck was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster Friday, Sept. 18.

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C.J. Uzomah Sep 18 10:43pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah (Achilles) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Friday, Sept. 18.

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Antonio Callaway Sep 18 9:43pm ET

Miami Dolphins WR Antonio Callaway will be eligible to return from his suspension after the Dolphins have played seven games in 2020.

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Lamical Perine Sep 18 9:20pm ET

New York Jets rookie running back La'Mical Perine (ankle) is questionable to face the 49ers in Week 2. Perine was limited in practice the last two days, so he has a real chance to make his NFL debut after he was inactive in the season-opener. The Jets could really use some depth with Le'Veon Bell on Injured Reserve. But even if Perine suits up on Sunday, he's unlikely to see much of a workload behind veteran Frank Gore. Plus, he'll be facing a really tough San Francisco defense after an offseason in which he didn't get many on-field repetitions.

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San Francisco 49ers Sep 18 9:10pm ET

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Dee Ford (neck) is listed as questionable for Week 2 against the Jets. Ford didn't practice the last two days after dealing with some neck stiffness following the season-opening loss to the Cardinals. San Francisco placed cornerback Richard Sherman on the Injured Reserve this week, so they won't be at full strength against New York. Ford had just three combined tackles in Week 1. He should be avoided in IDP leagues because of his injury, but even at less than full strength, the 49ers Defense remains a must-start fantasy defense against a Jets team that will be missing both Le'Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder.

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Brandon McManus Sep 18 9:00pm ET

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Noah Fant Sep 18 8:50pm ET

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Denver Broncos Sep 18 8:50pm ET

The Denver Broncos won't have any rowdy fans to worry about on their trip to Pittsburgh in Week 2, but a healthy quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his cast of weapons will pose a big challenge to a defense missing Von Miller (ankle) for the year and cornerback A.J. Bouye (shoulder) for at least three weeks. Inside linebacker Mark Barron (hamstring) will also be out. Denver's run D didn't allow Derrick Henry to run wild last week, but their inexperienced rookie cornerbacks Michael Ojemudia and Essang Bassey will surely be tested by Big Ben with talented wideouts JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson leading the charge. While the Broncos Defense was worth starting last week, they should be avoided this week with key injuries mounting.

From RotoBaller

Jerry Jeudy Sep 18 8:40pm ET

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Melvin Gordon Sep 18 8:30pm ET

Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman will be the primary backup to Melvin Gordon in the team's Week 2 matchup against the Steelers after Denver ruled Phillip Lindsay (toe) out for the week. Freeman won't have any standalone fantasy value, though, after he saw just two touches -- a carry for no gain and a 12-yard reception -- in the second half of the Week 1 loss to the Titans when Lindsay didn't return after the first half. On top of it, Pittsburgh's rush defense was one of the best in the league last year and held Saquon Barkley down in their season opener. The 24-year-old will see more than two touches over the full game, but he should be ignored in pretty much any fantasy format.

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Courtland Sutton Sep 18 8:13pm ET

Denver Broncos WR Courtland Sutton (shoulder) was limited during practice Friday, Sept. 18, and is listed as questionable for Week 2.

Fantasy Spin: Sutton is expected to be a game-time decision, so fantasy players will need to check the inactive list. Players will need to have other options available in case Sutton is ruled out, but Sutton would be a risky option if he is active.

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Chris Godwin Sep 18 7:53pm ET

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Mike Evans Sep 18 7:53pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Evans should be more involved in the passing game this week since he was limited in Week 1 because of the hamstring injury. He should be considered a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues.

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Will Fuller Sep 18 7:43pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Fuller led the team in receptions, receiving yards and targets last week and showed good chemistry with Deshaun Watson. He will be facing a tougher opponent in Week 2 but can still be a No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues.

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Corey Davis Sep 18 7:43pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Davis was upgraded during each day of practice this week and will be ready for his normal workload against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He likely will be the main option in the passing game for the Titans and can be at least a No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues.

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