On Wednesday Rex Tillerson went to the Department of State to introduce himself. Also on Wednesday a group of top career officials in the Department quit.
A large group of top career officials at the State Department resigned on Wednesday, the same day that the new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, made a visit to introduce himself.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Department leadership was not happy with their new boss. And it’s no exaggeration that the Trump administration wanted them all out.
State’s long-serving undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy, was among those who resigned. Kennedy joined the agency in 1973 and has served under both Republicans and Democrats. And he said during the transition that he wanted to remain in his position.
But team Trump put the word out that they were going to “clean house” at the State Department. So Kennedy and three of his top aides resigned.
The Washington Post reports that some of the others who resigned on Wednesday include 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.
Like Kennedy, all of them were long-time State Department leadership who served under both Republicans and Democrats.
This mass exit follows the departure of Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security, Gregory Starr and the director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, Lydia Muniz, who both left on Jan. 20, the day Trump was inaugurated.
Many others have also resigned since Trump took office.
The State Department Chief of Staff under Kerry, David Wade, told the Post,
“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate.”
“Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector.”
Ambassador Richard Boucher, the State Department spokesman for Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice said that it’s normal to have turnover with a new administration. But usually top officials work with the new appointees to determine who should remain in their positions.
Boucher told the Post,
“You don’t run foreign policy by making statements, you run it with thousands of people working to implement programs every day. To undercut that is to undercut the institution.”