Senior State Department Officials Depart Amid Conflicting Reports

Senior State Department Officials Depart Amid Conflicting Reports

Four officials who make up the State Department’s senior level of management are gone, with conflicting reports emerging from Washington over whether they resigned or were pressured to leave.

On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that Patrick Kennedy, undersecretary for management, had unexpectedly resigned on Wednesday.

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, resigned as well, the Post reported.

However, Thursday afternoon, a different story began to emerge.

CNN reported the officials had been asked by the White House to leave.

The Post noted the resignations took place as Rex Tillerson, President Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as Secretary of State, was visiting the State Department. The Post reports the Trump administration was looking for a person to fill the job Kennedy held, but also that Kennedy was hoping to continue filling the post

Kennedy was appointed in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Kennedy was in the news during the 2016 presidential campaign on two fronts. He was among those criticized for lax security for the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. Kennedy also had sought to reclassify an email sent by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to hide it from public view.

All of the officials who have left the State Department served under both Democratic and Republican administrations.

The most recent departures join the list of officials leaving the State Department.

Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr retired, and director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations Lydia Muniz left on Friday.

“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” said David Wade, who served as State Department chief of staff under Secretary of State 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.”

Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he was moving the Senate toward a vote on Tillerson.

“I’ll be filing cloture on secretary of state nominee Tillerson, which will ripen next week,” McConnell told reporters during a weekly press conference.

The move would set up a procedural vote early next week and get Tillerson through the Senate by the end of the week. Democrats have been lining up against Tillerson, voicing concerns about his ties to Russia and positions on human rights.

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