The State Department took a huge hit to its reputation last year when the Hillary Clinton email scandal went public. This week, the Wall Street Journal reports that the department’s entire senior management team has decided to resign. Later reports have indicated these officials were “invited” to resign by the Trump administration.
Those pushed out include:
• Patrick Kennedy – undersecretary for management
• Joyce Ann Barr – assistant secretary of state for administration
• Michele Bond – assistant secretary of state for consular affairs
• Ambassador Gentry Smith – director of the office of foreign missions
• Lydia Muniz – director of bureau of overseas building operations
• Gregory Starr – assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security
These names represent a small number of the many senior Foreign Service employees who were either asked to leave or decided to leave following Trump’s inauguration.
Patrick Kennedy (pictured above) had been involved in the Obama-to-Trump transition and was expected to keep his job under incoming Sec. of State Rex Tillerson. This Wednesday, Kennedy and three of his top officials announced their unexpected resignations.
“Pat Kennedy was fired,” insists a source close to the White House. “He may be saving face and pretending that he resigned, but he was let go. The poorly performing senior leaders at State will also be pushed out. You should expect other ‘resignations’ there, too.”
Former State Dept. Chief of Staff David Wade calls this “the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember.”
Ambassador Richard Boucher, who worked as State Dept. spokesman for Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, says the sheer amount of turnover is unprecedented.
“Traditionally, senior officials work with the new team to see who should stay on in their roles and what other jobs might be available,” reports the Washington Post.
The expertise such vital jobs require is “difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector,” says Wade. “These retirements are a big loss. They leave a void. These are very difficult people to replace.”
In other words, Rex Tillerson’s job just got a lot harder. His first responsibility is to find qualified and experienced men and women to fill the now-empty positions. His second responsibility will be to reassure the department’s remaining and no doubt panicked staff.
Rex Tillerson is still awaiting Congressional approval, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says the vote will take place soon. “I’ll be filing cloture on Secretary of State nominee Tillerson, which will ripen next week.”
Editor’s note: Given the “support” provided to Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, arguably two of the worst performances as Secretary of State in American history, it is not surprising these people are gone. Better to make a fresh start with a team known to be competent, even if they do have less experience. Trump is no one to suffer failures.