President Donald Trump and his Secretary of State pick Rex Tillerson already face major challenges in dealing with the rest of the world — and they just got more difficult thanks to mass resignations at the State Department.
The Washington Post’s Josh Rogin reports that “the entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday” as part of an “ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.”
According to the Post’s sources, the action started shortly after Tillerson visited the State Department’s headquarters in Foggy Bottom on Wednesday, when the State Department’s long-serving undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy, resigned. The Post claims that the Trump administration had been looking to replace Kennedy.
Kennedy was only the start, however, as three other top State Department officials announced on Wednesday that they were following him out the door: 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.
Barr, Bond and Smith have all served for years under both Republican and Democratic administrations.
“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” David Wade, who served as State Department chief of staff during John Kerry’s tenure as America’s top diplomat, tells the Post. “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.”
The State Department’s press office has put out a statement noting that all four officers in the Post’s report were political appointees, and that it’s customary for such appointees to all tender their resignations at the start of new administrations.