US State Department's entire senior management team quits as Secretary Rex Tillerson takes up post

RealClear Contributor


Being a senior official in a government post can sometimes be very lucrative and no one in their right mind would simply quit. However, in the wake of Rex Tillerson being appointed Secretary of State, the four top senior officials at the equivalent of America's foreign ministry, announced that they were standing down on Wednesday. 

The officials were Patrick Kennedy, Under Secretary of State for Management, Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Ambassador Gentry Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions. All four of the officials served under both Democratic and Republican administrations.

These four officials have now joined a growing number of civil servants who have left since Mr Trump took office last week. Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr and director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations Lydia Muniz left last Friday.

But it's difficult to say whether or not the four officials left because of Donald Trump or because of Rex Tillerson. My guess is probably both of them but Rex Tillerson being appointed Secretary of State may have triggered their actions a bit more, given that they hadn't quit earlier.

Tillerson’s nomination as Secretary of State drew criticism because of his alleged links to Russia during his work as Exxon chairman.

In 2013, the Russian president Vladimir Putin bestowed the country’s Order of Friendship honour on the oil boss, who went on to argue against sanctioning Russia over its invasion of Crimea.

In 2011, Exxon Mobil signed a deal with Rosneft – Russia’s largest state-owned oil company – for joint oil exploration and production.

Since then, the companies have formed ten joint ventures for projects in Russia.

And Rex Tillerson's involvement with Russia bundled with President Trump's unorthodox positions on many foreign-policy issues may have been too much for the senior management team of the US State Department.

Mr Trump has yet to fill many top diplomatic jobs, including the deputy secretary roles. Mr Tillerson, is expected to be confirmed by the Senate next week.



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