Resignations of 4 top State Department officials accepted

Four key managers at the State Department submitted their resignations at the start of the Trump administration, as is customary for all political appointees who need Senate confirmation.

The four had served under both George Bush and Barack Obama, so they thought their tenure would be extended as a matter of routine.

But in a surprise move, the Trump administration accepted their resignations, leaving the entire senior bureaucratic management of the State Department vacant.

First reports published in the Washington Post by foreign policy reporter Josh Rogin suggested that the managers resigned as a statement of opposition to Donald Trump. 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s job running the State Department just got considerably more difficult. The entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior Foreign Service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.

Tillerson was actually inside the State Department’s headquarters in Foggy Bottom on Wednesday, taking meetings and getting the lay of the land. I reported Wednesday morning that the Trump team was narrowing its search for his No. 2, and that it was looking to replace the State Department’s long-serving undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy, who has been in that job for nine years, was actively involved in the transition and was angling to keep that job under Tillerson, three State Department officials told me.

Then suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, Kennedy and three of his top officials resigned unexpectedly, four State Department officials confirmed. Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions, followed him out the door. All are career Foreign Service officers who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

It wasn't until several hours after the Post story appeared that the truth emerged.


Two senior administration officials said Thursday that the Trump administration told four top State Department management officials that their services were no longer needed as part of an effort to "clean house" at Foggy Bottom.

Patrick Kennedy, who served for nine years as the undersecretary for management, Assistant Secretaries for Administration and Consular Affairs Joyce Anne Barr and Michele Bond, and Ambassador Gentry Smith, director of the Office for Foreign Missions, were sent letters by the White House that their service was no longer required, the sources told CNN.

All four, career officers serving in positions appointed by the President, submitted letters of resignation per tradition at the beginning of a new administration.

The letters from the White House said that their resignations were accepted and they were thanked for their service.

The White House usually asks career officials in such positions to stay on for a few months until their successors are confirmed.

"Any implication that that these four people quit is wrong," one senior State Department official said. "These people are loyal to the secretary, the President and to the State Department. There is just not any attempt here to dis the President. People are not quitting and running away in disgust. This is the White House cleaning house."

Mark Toner, the State Department's acting spokesman, said in a statement that "These positions are political appointments, and require the President to nominate and the Senate to confirm them in these roles. They are not career appointments but of limited term."

There is no indication whatsover that there is some sort of mass exodus from the State Department because of the election of Donald Trump.  Rogin has egg on his face today, as he tried to push a story at odds with the facts and the truth.

But it is very significant that the top bureaucratic management positions have been vacated.  It's clear that President Trump wants to imprint his own ideas on the bureaucracy, which is in keeping with his pledge to "drain the swamp."  The departure of Patrick Kennedy, a close ally of Hillary Clinton and an enabler of her fundraising schemes when she was secretary, is especially significant, given his long tenure in that position.

It appears that it's no longer going to be "business as usual" at the State Department.

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