The Senior Level at the U.S. State Department is Now Completely Unstaffed

The Senior Level at the U.S. State Department is Now Completely Unstaffed

Whether they quit or were fired, the reported vacancies leave Donald Trump free of governmental pushback with foreign policy.

Whether they quit or were fired, the reported vacancies leave Donald Trump free of governmental pushback with foreign policy.

Text: Ian David Monroe

A report today from the Washington Post states that the entire senior-level staff of the State Department, including the undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy, resigned on Wednesday (January 25). CNN reports that they were fired. David Wade, a former State Department chief of staff tells the Post, “It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate.”

In its own words, the State Department, headed by the Secretary of State, is “responsible for promoting peace and stability in areas of vital interest to America, and helping developing nations establish stable economic environments,” as well as maintaining the United States’ “more than 270 diplomatic locations.” Essentially: maintaining foreign relations. This would be a good time to note that Trump’s Secretary of State pick is Rex Tillerson, the recently retired head of ExxonMobil with a very obvious interest in foreign affairs.

On January 23, the White House press office released a Presidential Memorandum announcing a hiring freeze effective immediately and for the next 90 days. Trump plans to “reduce the size of the Federal Government’s workforce through attrition.”

Whether or not Kennedy et al. left of their own accord or were forced out is an important distinction, especially when considering Trump’s hiring freeze. Now, the new President is free to leave those positions vacant and conduct foreign policy as he pleases—at least for 90 days.

On January 25, the Office of the Press Secretary sent out a positive press report (yes, like one you might expect of a lesser celebrity thirsty for praise) that cited a line from Fox News’s Sean Hannity: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much happen in such a short period of time.”

That’s true, and, suddenly, 90 days feel like a lifetime. From his chumminess with Russia to his contempt for China (our second largest trading partner) to considering a blanket ban of refugees to his racist-as-hell wall, which he swears Mexico will pay for, Donald Trump has very contentious foreign policies. What he will do with his power, free of State Department pushback, is unknowable, but it’s hard to imagine anything positive.

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