On Thursday, media outlets across the international spectrum ran with the story that top level State Department officials had quit rather than serve under President Trump. “In the latest display of disquiet among civil servants in Washington over the arrival of the new commander-in-chief, the four top senior officials at the equivalent of America’s foreign ministry, announced that they were standing down,” reported The Independent (UK). “People are quitting the State Department because of Trump,” Business Insider headlined.
Only one problem: these guys didn’t quit. They were fired.
As they should have been.
CNN now reports that the Trump administration told undersecretary for management Patrick Kennedy, Assistant Secretaries for Administration and Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Joyce Anne Barr, and director of the Office of Foreign Missions Gentry Smith to take a hike. State Department assistant secretary for Europe Victoria Nuland was also shown the door. They submitted their letters of resignation as “per tradition at the beginning of a new administration,” said CNN, and the White House gave the okay. A senior State Department official stated, “There is just not any attempt here to dis the President. People are not quitting and running away in disgust. This is the White House cleaning house.”
So why did the media run with the original headline?
Because it made it appear that chaos was running rampant throughout the administration. Posts abandoned! A world in flames! What if Khruschev decided to place nuclear missiles in Cuba at this very moment and there was NO ONE AT THE HELM?!
In reality, it’s great to see hacks like Kennedy go. Kennedy was a flack for Hillary Clinton. According to The Hill, a witness “accused senior State Department official Patrick Kennedy of pressuring subordinates to change classified email codes in the interview transcripts” with Hillary Clinton. How about Nuland? She was responsible for having a CIA memo about the attacks in Benghazi changed to avoid mention of prior security warnings about the consulate, because she was worried that “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either?”
One of the best elements of the new Trump administration is the house-cleaning at the State Department. We can only hope such house cleaning takes place at other executive branch agencies, whether they resign or are tossed out on their ear, and no matter how loudly the media complain or fib about it.