Four Top State Department Leaders Abruptly Resign: Report
The entire senior level of management officials at the State Department exited en masse Thursday, according to a new report from the Washington Post.
The move comes on the heels of the Senate committee's approval of Rex Tillerson for secretary of state and a new executive order to freeze all federal hiring. The Trump administration had been narrowing its search for its No. 2 and three officials at the time of the announcement. Departing members of state 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. Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy, who had served in the department for nine years and had been working with the Trump transition team, abruptly quit as well.
"It's the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that's incredibly difficult to replicate," said David Wade, the State Department chief of staff under John Kerry. "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."
Wade further highlighted the dangers implicit in such a move, especially with Trump left to fill those positions.
"Diplomatic security, consular affairs, there's just not a corollary that exists outside the department, and you can least afford a learning curve in these areas where issues can quickly become matters of life and death," he told the Washington Post. "The muscle memory is critical. These retirements are a big loss. They leave a void. These are very difficult people to replace."
The new administration has yet to comment on the resignations. Donald Trump has been in office for a total of six days.
UPDATE: CNN confirms that senior management at the State Department was removed as part of a larger White House effort to "clean house." All four career officials reportedly submitted letters of resignation shortly after Trump's inauguration.
H/T The Washington Post