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story.lead_photo.caption In this Friday, Oct. 20, 2017 photo, British Ambassador Kim Darroch hosts a National Economists Club event at the British Embassy in Washington. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

LONDON -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday called the U.K. ambassador to Washington a "stupid guy" as the British government tried to prevent the row over the ambassador's leaked memos from escalating.

"The wacky Ambassador that the U.K. foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy," Trump tweeted on Tuesday. "I don't know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool."

The series of tweets came hours after Prime Minister Theresa May stood by the ambassador, Kim Darroch, amid the controversy over his private memos published in the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

Trump also criticized May for failing to get her Brexit deal through Parliament. The president said he told May how to handle Britain's exit from the European Union, "but she went her own foolish way -- was unable to get it done. A disaster!"

It was the second day of Trump tweets targeting both May and Darroch. The ambassador's views on the Trump administration -- which were never meant for publication -- have caused embarrassment between two countries that often celebrate having a "special relationship."

In his memos, Darroch suggested that in order to communicate with the president, "you need to make your points simple, even blunt." He called the Trump administration's policy toward Iran "incoherent," said the president might be indebted to "dodgy Russians," and raised doubts about whether Trump's White House "will ever look competent."

Darroch has had a close relationship with numerous Trump administration officials, and the president's advisers have been frequent guests at embassy events.

May's spokesman, James Slack, told reporters in London the "selected" memos do not reflect the closeness and esteem with which the U.K. holds the relationship. He also said Darroch has the "full confidence" of the prime minister, and that May had phoned the ambassador to say he had her support.

But the two days of tweets ratcheted up pressure on Britain's government over Darroch. The tweets also put pressure on Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, the two men vying to succeed May as Conservative leader and prime minister.

Hunt, who is Britain's foreign secretary, told The Sun that while investigators were starting under the premise that someone in British government leaked the memos, the leak could also be the result of a hack by a hostile government.

"I've seen no evidence that that's the case, but we'll look at the leak inquiry very carefully," Hunt said.

The foreign secretary distanced himself from Darroch's communications, calling them "a personal view." But he also reprimanded Trump on Tuesday, tweeting that his comments were "disrespectful and wrong to our Prime Minister and my country."

Hunt wrote that "allies need to treat each other with respect," and said that "if I become PM our Ambassador stays."

Johnson largely ignored Darroch in his comments, focusing instead on Trump's tweets about May. Johnson said he supported the president's criticism of the Brexit negotiations.

"I've got a good relationship with the White House and I have no embarrassment in saying that," Johnson said in a pooled TV interview at a campaign visit in Manchester, in northern England. "It's very important we have a strong relationship with our most important ally. It is, has been, will be for the foreseeable future our No. 1 political, military, friend and partner."

Information for this article was contributed by Danica Kirka and Julie Pace of The Associated Press; and by Alex Morales, Joe Mayes, Kitty Donaldson, Justin Sink and Robert Hutton of Bloomberg News.

A Section on 07/10/2019

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