Donald Trump’s chief of diplomatic protocol has reportedly been suspended indefinitely amid accusations he intimated staff and carried a whip around the office.
Sean Lawler, a long-serving State Department official, had been due to accompany the president to Japan for this week’s G20 meetings with world leaders, but will not now be going as an investigation by the inspector general into his behaviour takes place, according to multiple US news outlets.
He is allegedly disliked by Mr Trump, who has asked why he still works in the administration, according to Bloomberg News, which reported Mr Lawler now plans to resign.
The protocol chief, who has the rank of ambassador, typically assists a president with diplomatic protocol and makes introductions both on overseas trips and when foreign leaders visit the White House.
US officials said a number of State Department employees had resigned in protest at Mr Lawler’s behaviour, which is said to have included carrying a whip around the office in an apparent attempt to intimidate staff, NBC News reported.
Mary-Kate Fisher, the assistant chief of protocol, has reportedly been asked to go in Mr Lawler’s stead to Osaka, where Mr Trump will meet with leaders including Xi Jinping of China, Russian president Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
According to his State Department biography, Mr Lawler has served in the US government for almost 30 years, including in the White House National Security Council.
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