Entire team of senior managers resigns at the U.S. State Department

UPDATE: I’m following this situation as some of those who resigned might have been asked to leave, and in cases of senior officials the distinction may be nebulous given that they might prepare letters of resignation as part of the normal transition between administrations. All I can say is that I took the Post’s report as accurate (they’re the Post!), and that report was echoed by several other reputable sources. Meanwhile, the Post also reports that the chief of the US Border Patrol resigned:

The chief of the U.S. Border Patrol has resigned after only six months on the job, one day after President Trump announced plans to ratchet up immigration enforcement and build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, officials said Thursday.

It was not immediately clear why Mark Morgan — a career FBI official who was the first outsider to lead the agency responsible for securing the U.S. borders — left the agency. His resignation is effective Jan. 31, officials said.

But Morgan had clashed with the powerful Border Patrol union, which endorsed Trump for president and whose leaders were present at Trump’s announcement of his immigration crackdown at Department of Homeland Security headquarters Wednesday.


So this just happened: according to the Washington Post, “The entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.” Some excerpts.

Then suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, [Undersecretary for Management Patrick] Kennedy and three of his top officials resigned unexpectedly, four State Department officials confirmed. 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, followed him out the door. All are career foreign service officers who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

In addition, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr retired Jan. 20, and the director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, Lydia Muniz, departed the same day. That amounts to a near-complete housecleaning of all the senior officials that deal with managing the State Department, its overseas posts and its people.

“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.”

. . . Ambassador Richard Boucher, who served as State Department spokesman for Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, said that while there’s always a lot of turnover around the time a new administration takes office, traditionally senior officials work with the new team to see who should stay on in their roles and what other jobs might be available. But that’s not what happened this time.

. . . By itself, the sudden departure of the State Department’s entire senior management team is disruptive enough. But in the context of a president who railed against the U.S. foreign policy establishment during his campaign and secretary of state with no government experience, the vacancies are much more concerning.

The rats are leaving the sinking ship, except that I wouldn’t call these people rats. The rats are the ones piloting the ship. And I’m going to start using the phrase Kurt Vonnegut made famous in Slaughterhouse Five: “So it goes.”


Yes, this is Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie, but, as Steve Gould pointed out, he was very ratlike early in his career

h/t: Robin


  1. GBJames
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    The Republican Party has become a party of vandals. It hasn’t even been a week yet.

    • Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      Ooh, I like that. I’m writin’ it down!

    • busterggi
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      The Vandals actually started a couple of kingdoms which did relatively well until religious schisms tore them apart from the inside.

      • GBJames
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        In lower case the word means something different.

    • ploubere
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, that’s how I see it. The gates were opened and a horde of barbarians has taken over the White House. And the fault lies with the idiots who opened the gates—all the idiot Trump voters, who somehow believed that the barbarians were going to do them favors.

  2. veroxitatis
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Meanwhile, it looks like our PM will be arse licking the Chump and pandering to his wish to recreate the Ronnie / Maggie love affair.
    I also read in the Times today that he will be angling for more than a mere State Visit to Britain. Buckingham Palace is not enough for him. He wants to visit HM’s private residence of Balmoral Castle and play a round of golf on its private course. I trust the Queen will be unmoved by this affront. God knows what the Duke of Edinburgh will say (privately, unfortunately).

    • Stephen Mynett
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      I would welcome a visit of Trump and Theresa May together in Scotland but I am pro Independence and those two unlovable bampots upsetting people up here could do our cause no end of good.

      • ploubere
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        Haha, bampots. I like it.

    • Posted January 26, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      I trust the Queen will be unmoved by this affront.

      The Queen, with a life devoted to public service, will do what is in the interests of the UK. And it’s in the UK’s interests to indulge an American President (unless there’s a spectacularly good reason not to), especially one from whom we want a trade deal.

    • Posted January 26, 2017 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Contrariwise, it looks as though the President of Mexico will not be doing any “arse licking”.
      How much do you think he’ll help pay for a border wall?

      • Posted January 26, 2017 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

        It’s pretty clear that you and I (assuming you are a USian) will be paying it. The 20% tariff will be paid by consumers, not Mexico. The idiot doesn’t even understand basic economics. Or he is counting on his slavish followers to not get it.

    • yiamcross
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      Not like the DoE to keep his thoughts to himself, maybe Phil will start a twitter account. Now that could be interesting…

      • Stephen Mynett
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

        That is a good thought yiamcross, he could be described as the man who put the twit in twitter.

    • somer
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

      How low can May go. Let the Queen invite Trump to Balmoral. As long as she has him drowned in the moat.

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 7:32 am | Permalink

        Sadly no moat there, but I’ve got my spade and am heading towards Deeside as we speak.

    • Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Huh! He just got in and now he’s getting uppity… the nerve of him! I hope HM will not accommodate his sleazy attempts at ingratiation and self-aggrandizement.

  3. BJ
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    If we keep seeing this — all as a result of Trumps and his remarkable ability to drive away everyone near him — it will spell disaster for the proper functioning of crucial institutions.

    It gets more frightening by the day.

    • Kevin
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Or humorous. If you can’t laugh at it, it can eat you away. i just saw this trailer. Brilliant. Satire retains humanity in plain sight of atrocity.

      The Last Laugh

  4. Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    It is hard to keep or hire good people if you constantly mock, criticize, and attack the very people you want to do the jobs. Hugs

  5. Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    With no respect for expertise and experience, Trump’s rabid supporters will merely consider this “Draining the swamp!” What they won’t acknowledge is that Trump is draining the swamp and filling it back up with sewage. Swamps, at least, are viable ecosystems and draining them destroys important habitats for wildlife that are much more suited for the environment.

  6. FloM
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Have these people not sworn a oath to protect the country? Should be more pertinent now than ever…

    • Larry
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

      But if they indeed desire to protect the country, why would they want to stay in their positions and facilitate Trump’s anarchy?

      There is going to be a lot of working out of what “Resist” actually means in practice.

      • somer
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

        yes – trump would override them. And since they have left it makes it impossible for the forthcoming disaster to be blamed on the expert “elite”

  7. Martin X
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Mixed feelings on this.

    First, I admire their integrity and would like to see more of this, because integrity seems in short supply these days.

    On the other hand, this makes it easier for Trump to place knuckleheads in these jobs.

    • eric
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      Yes, it pains me greatly.

      I respect their stand on principle, but the practical effect will be a much more partisan, inexperienced, and unqualified leadership of the US Department of State. And nobody should want that.

      I very much hope that the senior civil service at other departments does NOT follow their lead. I hope these people stay, and stand as a bulwark/rational influence on the appointees Trump puts in place. But at the same time, if others choose to leave too, I completely understand why.

      And, at the very least, it makes a mockery/thumbs their noses at Trump’s hiring freeze. He’s going to have to replace them, and if he wants to bring his own people in from outside, he’s now going to have to break his own rule. (Which I think he will do with happy abandon, and won’t even flinch at the hypocrisy.)

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps their thinking was that Trump’s ill-conceived policies might be less damaging in the hands of inexperienced knuckleheads than those of people who could actually implement them effectively. By walking off the job, they make it harder for Trump’s people to figure out how to undo their previous good work.

        • eric
          Posted January 26, 2017 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

          Well, except that the best people to prevent political appointees from damaging the system are the career civil servants. I think it’s much more likely that an inexperienced civil servant hired from outside will ‘enable’ the political appointee, compared to an experienced one who is personally invested in the mission of their office.

    • Posted January 26, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      It is a double edged sword, but given the insanity of that asshole and ruthlessness of his cronies, I can only support such a clear and decisive act.

  8. W.Benson
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Not exactly on-topic, but Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto has just announced he has cancelled his trip to Washington to meet with Trump.

  9. darrelle
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    This seems to me to be, by far, the most worrisome thing to have happened so far in the Trump Era. The one hope we had, I think, is that the machine of Federal Government would mitigate the damage done by Trump and his ilk. Now the people that make up key parts of that machine are walking out.

    I don’t know that I can blame them, but this doesn’t sound good to me. But, hell, they were probably going to get booted out by Trump soon anyway. May as well do it on their own terms and in such a way that communicates a worthwhile message.

    • Carey Haug
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      CNN is now saying four top officials did not quit. They were fired.

      • Darren Garrison
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        Yes, but were they fired before or after they quit?

        “You can’t quit, you’re fired!”

        Alternative truth, after all.

  10. John Conoboy
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    As the Bokononists say, “busy, busy, busy.”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

      Where’s the cat? Where’s the cradle?

  11. Mark R.
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    The shit just keeps piling up. What’s next? This is getting very scary.

    And the political blackmail of refusing federal funds to sanctuary cities is tyrannical.

    “So it goes.”

  12. Heather Hastie
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    It gets scarier every day. The biggest problem with a Trump presidency is the potential for disaster internationally. That just increased significantly with these resignations.

    A new administration is always at greater risk as that’s when they’re perceived as being most vulnerable. It could be a case of which rogue nation will be first to launch an attack.

  13. J.Baldwin
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    CNN is reporting that these officials were fired or asked to resign by the Trump Administration: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/26/politics/top-state-department-officials-asked-to-leave-by-trump-administration/index.html

  14. GBJames
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    I think Steve Bannon is actually running the show here. I suspect he’s actually writing the documents that tRump is signing.

    • nickswearsky
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      I fear you are correct. I have no idea what Trump believes or if he believes anything. He surrounds himself with sycophants and evil toadies who flatter him. So he repeats and sign anything, ANYTHING, they want because he thinks they are smart and it must be a good idea. I simply cannot believe how things have gone to sh*t in just a week. And I dread what kind of violence will come of it. War? Riots? Who knows.

      • nickswearsky
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        Oh, and Bannon is a f*cking Nazi enabler.

    • somer
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 5:42 am | Permalink

      Trump loves the feeling of power even more than money and craves adulation and respect even if he’s no statesman. I think Trump actually has some long standing ideas on foreign and domestic policy, if stupid ones, and he has surrounded himself with people who are compatible in this camp. He is a long time admirer of Kissinger and thinks the allies should be made to pay their way, the US should be ready to demonstrate strength with the occasional war with lower ranking countries to maintain pecking order whilst making concessions to Russia in particular (because he also sees economic national interest as key in foreign policy and China as an economic rival to the US). He believes in win lose bargaining except when bargaining with equals such as deals with superpower strongmen and he has no problems with moral scruples about the Russian empire or costs to countries that don’t count in his reckoning. Like he has no probs with torture either – as he said in the campaign – even if it doesnt work “they [Islamists considered terrorists] deserve it”. He appears to be ready to further increase the nuclear arsenal. He has economic ties to Saudi and no doubt rates it because of the oil so no immigration curbs on it. Likewise Afghanistan because it is effectively tied to Pakistan and Pakistan is the right hand of Saudi and besides Afghanistan is full of oil. He also has personal economic interests with the Russians and the Turkey. He thinks in terms of the bipolar superpower world and hasn’t factored in the multipolar complexities of the post cold war world including the rise of Islam as a political force and the ubiquity of asymmetric power. He believes its possible to cooperate with Russia to defeat Isis and other sunni terrorists whilst separately punishing Iran, so long as concessions are offered to the Russians elsewhere (like dropping sanctions, Ukraine, Eastern European/baltic interests), weakening Nato etc.He is a social Darwinist. He thinks a blend of narrow nationalism at home, economic protectionism, selective displays of military readiness and deals with the russians, and others on things that don’t matter to him will “make america great”. He surrounds himself with people who agree with this agenda or if they don’t fully agree with the agenda or key parts of it, are totally loyal personally to him – he is after all a narcissist. The only exception is General Mattis – but then Mattis has a strong line on Iran and trump thinks he can go hard on Iran whilst doing deals with Russia

  15. Craw
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I read elsewhere they were fired. I will wait until I know before deciding.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

      It’s bad if they quit; worse, if they were fired.

      • Craw
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:27 am | Permalink

        Is it relevant to what conclusion you draw?

        This now seems like bad reporting from the Post. Aside from anything else, and questions of push or jump, “entire” is just hopelessly wrong.

  16. Posted January 26, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Whether they resigned or were fired, it seems like a great way to get dangerous people into key positions of power…

  17. ariel
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Might this be… fake news? 🙂

    • Posted January 26, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Well, they could have been fired; I’m watching various sites for clarification.

      • ariel
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 2:00 am | Permalink

        Not only that, see also:
        “A little perspective: only 1 under-Secretary of state (Alan Larson) stayed through the transition from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush”

  18. Merilee
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    My career diplomat father must be rolling in his ashes😖

  19. Posted January 26, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    We have a great mess on our hands !

  20. Hempenstein
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    My question, since shortly after the election, is how many Secret Service have/will depart. A number that probably won’t be known for a long time, but surely more than a few will draw the line at putting their life on the line for Boss Tw**t.

    • Posted January 26, 2017 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

      I saw a snippet of outrage when one agent said they weren’t willing to take a bullet for him.

  21. @eightyc
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Let the swamp draining begin! If they can’t do their job, then they shouldn’t be there. It’s called being a professional.

  22. Posted January 27, 2017 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  23. Posted January 27, 2017 at 2:39 am | Permalink

    Rather an own goal by the Washington Post.

  24. Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    In his first interview since Friday, he sounds unhinged. Video and full transcript here:

    • busterggi
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Remind you of anybody?

      • Posted January 27, 2017 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

        LOL. Thanks.
        Oh, I forgot to mention that the transcript of Trump’s first interview seems to have been changed a little. In the section where he goes on and on about the world being a mess, he actually ends with “the world is a mess, the world is a mess, the world is a mess”. See, if you say things often enough, they become true. 😉

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