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Revenge of the State Department



In their testimony, diplomats described themselves as being out of touch with Ukraine's policies, with Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other Trump political appointments – apparently at the behest of the president – pursuing a "shadow" foreign policy that involves holding back $ 400 million in military assistance to Kiev. Their boss, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, attacked the House process as "alarming" and defended the legitimacy of Giuliani's efforts.

In general, diplomats' testimony reinforced allegations that Trump tried to put the wrong pressure on Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival. But some have also used the platform to broadcast lengthy complaints against Trump and his associates regarding State Department careers, some of which were downgraded or set aside after attacks by conservative media.

The challenge poses risks: it will deepen the gap between Trump and the State Department, while fueling greater global confusion over US foreign policy positions. Many of Trump's top aides view the Foggy Bottom as a day of democratic intrigue ̵

1; a long and widespread suspicion of right-wing Cold War roots.

So far, though, it feels pretty good to hit back.

"People are bored," says Laura Kennedy, a former US ambassador who remains in touch with officials still in the State Department. "There is a deep pit of resentment that is just twisting to the top."

There is also anxiety.

Officials say impeachment request is has become a constant source of questions from their foreign counterparts and overseas press and that it is challenging to explain, especially given the role of the State Department.

Former officials say they are sending calls from still-serving diplomats worried about their future Impeachment investigation opportunity being involved in junior diplomats or growing beyond Ukraine and Europe is not far from the minds of the people. A private Facebook group for foreign service employees considering leaving their jobs saw a significant jump in participants.

"People lower-level officials are still terrified that they will be wrapped up in this, "said a former government official." They are glad to see Masha, Mike and George swing the banner for foreign service, but are still not convinced that people they won't fuck. "

Masha is a reference to Marie Jovanovic, a former US ambassador to Ukraine, who deposited MPs on October 11 with a call from committees of inquiry and despite objections from the State Department. Her opening statement rejected Trump's machinations against Trump while calling for more support for the foreign service.

Jovanovic was withdrawn from Ukraine in May, months before her term, after Trump allies spread rumors that she was prejudiced against the president. On July 25, with the leader of Ukraine at the heart of the impeachment investigation, Trump called it "bad news" and said he would "go through some things."

Jovanovic told lawmakers that at the age of 30 plus years as a diplomat, she always adhered to the necessary ethos of non-partisanship, so that she was "mistrustful" in recalling "false allegations." She warned that the State Department was "assaulted and hollowed out" and stressed that the consequences outweighed The misty bottom.

The damage will also come when "those diplomats who are soldiers and do their best to represent our nation are confronted by partners abroad who question whether the ambassador really talks about the president and whether he can be considered reliable. partner, "she said in her opening statement.

Jovanovic was followed on the Capitol Hill by two other distinguished officers of the Foreign Service: George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary, whose portfolio includes Ukraine; and Michael McKinley, who just days ago resigned as senior advisor to Pompeo. Three other State Department employees – Bill Taylor, now the top US diplomat in Kiev; Philip Reeker, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs; and Surya Gianti, an employee of the Kiev-based Foreign Service, were called to testify; others could follow.

Kent describes being told by a "low-level" chief of Ukrainian politics such as Giuliani, US political ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sundland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and others who are said to have ignored established diplomatic ways to pursue dubious interests Ukraine.

McKinley told impeachment investigators that he resigned in part because of Trump's attacks on Jovanovic and Pompeo seemed reluctant to protect career diplomats from political revenge. McKinley has grown to find the situation "unbearable", a former colleague told POLITICO.

Like Jovanovic, Kent testified contrary to instructions from the White House and Pompeo. Both remain in the treasury of the State Department.

Hill officials indicated that they were calling on diplomats to give them some cover so they could cooperate. McKinley, after resigning from the state, testified voluntarily.

A government official said that he was particularly treated with "strong respect and sympathy" within the department of Jovanovic and Kent. They are viewed as "career civil servants who have become protective in political matters," the official says. , adding that there are "quite a long line of them" in this administration.

McKinley is also viewed favorably to testify, but many career officials wonder why it took him so long to resign – Jovanovic was then all recalled about five months ago.

Neither the Department of State nor the White House responded to a request for comment on this story. But on Thursday, acting Trump Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney fired at the diplomats who testified, calling them "career bureaucrats who say," Do you know what? I do not like President Trump's policies, so I will participate in this witch hunt. "

Also testified this month was Sondland, a Trump donor who was named ambassador, although he had no diplomatic experience; and Kurt Walker, a former Foreign Service official who took over an unpaid political meeting as a US special envoy charged with pastoral peace talks between Ukraine and Russia. Volker left the position before giving evidence.

The findings of the investigation alarmed even the most diplomatic of diplomats.

In a furious essay on foreign affairs, William Burns, a highly respected and well-known veteran of the foreign service who now manages the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, turned his head to Washington when comparing Trump's attitude to US diplomats with the days of the Communist – a hunt led by Joseph McCarthy.

"The damage from this attack – coming from the executive branch itself, after nearly three years of continuous diplomatic self-sabotage and at a particularly fragile geopolitical moment – is likely to be even more severe for both the diplomatic trade machine and US foreign policy. "Burns warned in an essay widely read in the State Department.

Department staff say that in the misty bottom and beyond, civilian and foreign service employees are doing their jobs and there are no work stoppages or visible expressions of protest. For example, US officials seamlessly fulfilled their duties at the US General Assembly in New York, whose keynote session last month coincided with the Democrats' release in the impeachment investigation.

However, despair within the department has sometimes spread publicly, even before the revelations in Ukraine put the Trump administration's unorthodox approach to diplomacy at the heart of the impeachment investigation.

In August, two Foreign Service officials announced their departure in stern words, describing their deep disappointment with Trump.

One rejects the widespread belief among Trump's aides that there is a "deep state" in federal bureaucracy that is determined to thwart Trump's agenda. "If resistance exists, it should be clear from that point on that it has failed," said outgoing diplomat Chuck Park.

Next month, another US diplomat argues that now is the time to stay. "If we all quit when it gets tough, who will be left behind by the US Champion Diplomacy?", Writes Elizabeth Fitzsimons, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.

Much of the anger is directed at Pompeo.

State Department officials say they are furious that he did not publicly endorse Jovanovic, who testifies that Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan admitted to her that she "did nothing wrong" but was nonetheless recalled . (Pompeo declined to discuss Jovanovic in an interview with POLITICO on Friday.)

State Department officials also say that Pompeo has voiced opposition to congressional requests for information to protect US diplomats.

Pompeo took office in April 2018 after morale sank unusually low with Trump's first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. Tillerson has largely set aside career diplomats and seems ready to go along with the steep budget cuts Trump is proposing for the State Department – the cuts Congress is repeatedly blocking.

Pompeo won goodwill early by pointing career officials, such as McKinley, to senior positions and stating that he wanted to return to the state the "denouement" of the state. And he still has his fair share of defenders: an administration official who monitors the state closely, dismisses allegations of a moral problem under Pompeo as "junk" and says the complaints are overblown.

But many state officials say it makes more sense that Pompeo is ready to sell off the bureau in order to keep its favor with Trump, whose support he will likely need if he run for the Senate as many expect .

"Generally, people are disappointed that Pompeo seems to have given up its principled leadership in favor of political games," says a US diplomat abroad.

Disappointment in Pompeo is not limited to the dispute with Ukraine.

He was assassinated for not immediately dismissing Assistant Secretary of State Kevin Molly after the Inspector General's August report found that Molly had subjected his careers to political revenge. Pompeo's aides say he can't fire a Senate-backed employee, but there's no sign he asked Trump to remove Molly. On Friday, Foreign Policy announced that Moley had announced he would retire at the end of November.

The Inspector General of the State Department is still investigating other cases of alleged political retaliation. In some of those cases, dating back to Tillerson's time, long-time careers turned out to be downgraded or otherwise ill-treated after the conservative press was broadcast as disloyal to Obama's detentions.

At least one politically-appointed Trump accused of retaliating, Iranian envoy Brian Hook, is still working for Pompeo. The Inspector General's report is due out this month and careers are watching closely to see what, if anything, Pompeo is doing in return.

Pompeo's speech this month to the American Association of Christian Counselors about how his faith is affecting him has also troubled many American diplomats. It did not help that the Department of State strongly promoted the speech, including by spreading the title of "Being a Christian Leader" on its homepage . Amid complaints that the agency violates the traditional separation of church and state, officials have changed the title.

"Imagine the unrest if a senior US official, let alone a secretary of state, made a public speech and then made comments on official US government channels entitled" Be a Buddhist Leader "or" Be a Muslim Leader. "It's so weird," said the US diplomat abroad.

For his part, Pompeo insists he is happy to co-operate on the impeachment study as required "by law," but he criticizes Democrats for not allowing State Department attorneys to participate in the testimony.

As for the diplomats who testify? "I hope they go to tell the truth," he said.

The opposition shown by Jovanovic and others can only deepen Trump and his longstanding suspicions of the State Department.

Just days after Trump took office, White House officials became furious after about 1,000 State Department employees signed a memorandum of "channel of dissent" criticizing Trump's "travel ban" on people from several countries with majority of Muslims. The affair heightened perceptions among political appointees that the department is a bastion of Democrats.

Later in 2017, when he was squeezed for leaving so many positions in the State Department vacant, Trump said he just didn't need them.

"What matters is me," Trump told Fox News. "I'm the only one that matters, because when it comes to politics, it will be politics."

But for now, since the impeachment investigation leads their colleagues to the Capitol Hill, State Department officials feel like they matter too. . "They are sad, tired and scared," says a former State Department employee, "although I am glad when colleagues stand up and take their oath."

Jake Sherman contributed to this report.


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