Sean Lawler, a State Department official whose title is chief of protocol, was pulled from the president’s upcoming trip to the G-20 summit in Japan over “accusations of intimidating staff and carrying a whip in the office,” Bloomberg News reported Tuesday.
The piece’s author, Jennifer Jacobs, tweeted Tuesday night that Lawler faces a possible probe by the inspector general, and that Lawler is “expected to resign soon.”
Jacobs’ tweets also identified the whip in question as a “horsewhip.”
CNN characterized Lawler’s removal from the trip as a “suspension.”
“A large chunk of the protocol office was aware of this behavior for a long time. They’re surprised, to be honest, that this hadn’t been dealt with sooner,” an unnamed State Department official told CNN.
The protocol chief’s job is to handle sometimes sensitive matters both on foreign trips by the president, and during visits by foreign leaders. He also handles such matters as “what order participants should enter a room.”
Mary-Kate Fisher, the assistant chief of protocol, will join the trip in Lawler’s place.
The president, Bloomberg reported, has “little fondness” for Lawler, who despite his frequent presence at the White House is not a high profile figure and rarely appears in news accounts.
Lawler is described by Bloomberg as a three-decade veteran of government service who served in the Navy and has also worked at the White House National Security Council and U.S. Cyber Command in Maryland.
The horsewhip detail led to some funny jokes on Twitter. Many users, including reporter Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post, simply replied, “A horsewhip???”
A top Trump official just resigned over bizarre horsewhip allegations https://t.co/n9YigpaFYZ
— Robert E Good (@circlebob) June 26, 2019
“If you had ‘WH official barred from going to the G-20 because he walks around the west wing with a horsewhip’ on your Trump bingo board, congrats,” tweeted Rob Flaherty, a staffer for the campaign of 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Roarke.
“A horsewhip?” Twitter user SassyCatz asked in the replies. “Were there horses in the protocol office?”
The next reply was simply, “neigh.”
There were also many jokes about the phrases “majority whip” and “minority whip,” as well as various funny GIFs involving whips.
The G-20 summit gets underway this weekend. Per The Hill, President Trump was asked if he will bring up the subject of election interference with Russian President Vladimir Putin when he sees him at the summit, he said,”I may.”
Among other issues likely to be addressed at the summit are trade with China and North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.