One of Donald John Trump’s campaign promises was “Drain the Swamp”.
The State Department is notorious for being a bastion of liberal bureaucrats even in Republican administrations. It is also a corrupt bureaucracy.
Recall that in the 3+ years (2009-2013) when Hillary Clinton headed the department as U.S. Secretary of State, she used the State Department as a personal “pay-for-play” fiefdom, while she took foreign policy orders from George Soros. See:
Recall also how uncooperative the State Department was in the FBI’s investigation of Hillary’s illicit private email server. See:
Then there is the State Department’s “7th Floor Group” that an FBI document identified as America’s “shadow government”. (See “FBI confirms U.S. has a shadow government“)
So if any federal bureaucracy’s swamp needed draining, the State Department is top of the list.
Even before Rex Tillerson was confirmed as Secretary of State, the draining of the State Department swamp already had begun with the resignation of four senior staffers. One of them is none other than a member of the 7th Floor Group — Patrick F. Kennedy (no relation to the Kennedy clan), long-time Undersecretary for Management who had been with the State Department since 1973.
Happily, the draining of the swamp is continuing under new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
CBS News reports that on February 16, 2017, while Rex Tillerson was on his first overseas trip as Secretary of State, much of the 7th Floor staff, who work for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices, were told their services were no longer needed. These staffers are often the conduit between the secretary’s office to the country bureaus, where the regional expertise is centered.
Daniel Halper of the New York Post observed the obvious — that the firing of the 7th Floor Group is “a symbolically important sign to the rest of the diplomatic corps that their new boss has different priorities than the last one.”
One of those who were laid off is Ambassador Kristie Kenney, the Counselor of the State Department and a career foreign service officer who had served as an ambassador under Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton. Kenney was one of the last remaining senior officials. Her staff was told that Secretary Tillerson does not intend to fill the counselor’s position anytime soon.
The Trump administration has sent clear signals that many key foreign policy portfolios will be controlled directly by the White House, rather than through the professional diplomats. As an example, not a single State Department official was included in the White House meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner – who has no regional expertise or diplomatic experience – had a greater role in the meeting than the Secretary of State Tillerson.
Tom Countryman, Former Assistant Secetary for Non-Proliferation who was let go earlier this month, griped: “It is irresponsible to let qualified, nonpartisan, experienced people go before you have any idea of their replacement. You can’t do foreign policy by sitting in the White House, just out of your back pocket.” Countryman worries that the White House intends to not rely on the State Department for foreign policy and that no one will be left in the department to challenge the edicts drawn up in the Oval Office.
State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond, a new hire at the State Department who previously worked for Newt Gingrich, did not respond to the specific question of what motivated the layoffs but provided the following statement: “As part of the transition from one administration to the next we continue to build out our team. The State Department is supported by a very talented group of individuals, both Republicans and Democrats. We are appreciative to any American who dedicates their talents to public service.”