Trump’s protocol ambassador resigns just before Trump’s Japan trip amid internal probe of alleged misconduct, including carrying a WHIP in the office
- Chief of Protocol Sean Lawler is leaving just before Trump takes off for Japan
- Has rank of ambassador and advises presidents on business meetings, ceremonies, and etiquette
- Possible probe of intimidating staff, carrying a whip, Bloomberg reported
- Trump has high-stakes meetings with heads of Russia, China, Japan, and other nations
- Trump also visits South Korea for more tense nuclear diplomacy
- Lawler had no comment
The ambassador charged with overseeing protocol is being been forced to resign his job on the eve of a high-stakes visit by President Donald Trump to Japan and South Korea.
Chief of Protocol Sean Lawler is resigning his post, following reports of a possible internal probe of allegations of intimidation and harassment.
Lawler had no comment, and a senior administration official told DailyMail.com that Lawler ‘was respected by many and his extensive understanding of protocol and diplomacy will be missed.’
The sudden move comes just as the president prepares to meet one-on-one with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and other world leaders at the G20 summit here in Japan.
There were scant details immediately available about the reason for Lawler’s departure. Bloomberg reported he was accused of intimidating staff – and even carrying a whip around the office. He is not expected to return to his position.
Sean Lawler, the chief of protocol at the state department, is being pushed out following reports of an internal probe of misconduct
The multi-leader forum includes multiple meetings where even the best-laid plans might not avoid diplomatic awkwardness. The Putin meeting once again puts Trump in the room with the leader the intelligence community assesses was behind Russia’s election hacking. The Xi meeting comes amid Trump’s threat to impose another $300 billion in tariffs amid a trade war.
Trump also will sit down with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman following the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Kashoggi.
BAD TIMING: The departure comes as President Trump heads to Asia for high-stakes meetings with dignitaries
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, and Brigitte Macron, escorted by Sean Lawler, chief of protocol at the State Department, right, walk on the red carpet as they arrive at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Monday April 23, 2018. Lawler was to accompany Trump to Asia
Lawler served in the Navy for two decades and served on the National Security Council before being confirmed to his post, which carries the rank of ambassador
Lawler was confirmed to his post by the Senate on a voice vote in 2017 after being nominated by Trump. He has the rank of ambassador and reports to the Secretary of State.
According to the State Department’s chief of protocol page: ‘Our team extends the first hand that welcomes presidents, prime ministers, ruling monarchs, and other leaders to our country. By serving on the front lines of diplomatic engagement, we promote cross-cultural exchange and build new bridges of understanding between people and governments around the world.’
The State Department did not immediately return a request for comment, and a Capitol Hill official was still gathering information on the situation.
Lawler previously served on the National Security Council and in the Navy, where he served as Office of Visits and Protocol at the U.S. Cyber Command in Fort Meade, Maryland.
He also previously served as Director of Administration at the Naval Support Facility Thurmont (Camp David), the presidential retweet that Trump visited just last weekend.
Two officials told NBC Lawler had been suspended indefinitely, pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
The assistant chief of protocol, Mary-Kate Fisher, will attend the summit meeting in his place. The second leg of the trip takes Trump to South Korea for more high-stakes nuclear diplomacy.