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Samoa party witness: U.S. Ambassador behaved 'like he was channelling Trump'

There were complaints the ambassador’s behavior was “culturally insensitive”, “rude” and “undiplomatic”.  [photo: PeaceCorps Samoa Facebook]

A priest shouted "f... Trump" at a Peace Corps celebration party in Samoa after being rudely "shushed" by United States Ambassador Scott Brown, an attendee claims.

The clash is alleged to have occurred at the July event that sparked a State Department investigation, to which Brown referred as a "cultural misunderstanding" in a Stuff interview on Wednesday. 

At the Peace Corps' 50th anniversary celebrations, the reverend was thanked by people who left the party feeling embarrassed at a "belligerent American who is now ambassador" and meant to "build trust", said the attendee, who did not wish to be named.

"When he was giving a speech he rudely shushed everyone … [it] was a cocktail party so it was supposed to be a fun event, and there were a lot of heads of state at the party," she said.

"People were appalled, it felt like he was channelling [US President Donald] Trump."

The source acknowledged there was tension because a lot of the Americans who came over with the Peace Corps were Democrats, and Brown was one of the first ambassadors to be appointed by the Republican president after his inauguration in January.

Brown had not done anything to "release the tension",  she said.

The ambassador was the subject of an an official administrative inquiry into his conduct at the Peace Corps event in Apia, Samoa, in July.

US officials said Brown had been counselled on standards of conduct for government employees after two complaints that originally came from two female Peace corps volunteers.

The source described Brown as "arrogant, fake, and put off a lot of people".

Brown blamed "cultural misunderstandings" for people taking offence, which he blamed on comments he made about some of the guests looking beautiful, and a reference to one woman being able to make hundreds of dollars in the hospitality industry in the US.

Brown said he made the comments after seeing the guests earlier in the day looking "dirty and grungy". "Gail and I both walked in and said 'you guys are beautiful, you look really handsome sir, you guys are great'," he said, referring to his wife, Gail Huff.  "And apparently somebody took offence to that.

"Fine...I did say it. Gail and I did say it absolutely," he said.

The source said Brown's claim he didn't know his comments would be offensive because of "cultural differences" didn't make sense because the complainant was an American woman.

"The event was being catered by the Peace Corps volunteers who are all Americans," a source who attended the event in Apia, Samoa.

Read more at Stuff NZ