In an unprecedented move, President-elect Donald Trump has given a hard-line pink slip to all politically appointed ambassadors: Be gone by Inauguration Day. No exceptions.
The Dec. 23 State Department notice made it clear that President Barack Obama’s overseas representatives were no longer going to be on the payroll once Trump takes office, according to The Washington Examiner.
A senior Trump transition official said the move was to ensure that Obama’s overseas diplomats leave their government jobs as scheduled, just as federal government employees in the U.S. are required to do.
A little background: Political appointees are nearly always the very wealthy. Most directly donate to a campaign, and those who also raise large amounts of money from others are called “bundlers.”
In his second term alone, Obama had a record-high 39 political appointees, and more than half them raised or directly donated over half a million dollars to his 2012 campaign, according to ABC News. The more you donate and raise, the nicer your diplomatic post, with Europe and the Caribbean being among the top contenders.
Many of these appointees make fine diplomats, especially in highly developed countries where they may already have extensive ties.
Some, however, have appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearings never even having visited the countries they expected to be posted in, and showing complete ignorance of their intended post’s governmental structure and our strategic interests in the region.
Since these posts are, by definition, tied to the sitting president, it only makes sense that Trump does not want Obama’s appointees serving at any point during his term.
The New York Times reported that a sudden cutoff date is often extended for diplomats with children, who are now scrambling to get visas and new living arrangements so their children can remain in school or are pleading with their children’s U.S. schools to allow them to return mid-term.
Incoming presidents of both parties have also often made exceptions to allow ambassadors to wrap up important diplomatic business while their successors were in the confirmation process, which can take months.
Such an abrupt change could intensify concern among allies about their relationships with the new administration, especially among those countries who will be left without a U.S. presence.
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