Several senior US State Dept officials removed from posts

People enter the State Department Building in Washington, US, Jan 26, 2017.
People enter the State Department Building in Washington, US, Jan 26, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • A number of career US Foreign Service officers were informed this week that they will not be asked to stay on in senior or sensitive posts that are under direct White House control, creating an unusual leadership vacuum among the top ranks of the State Department.

Although the diplomats were not technically fired, President Donald Trump's administration opted to remove a number of top officials in charge of the State Department's 13 divisions responsible for policy and other matters. Officials at the level of assistant secretary and above were affected, the department said.

Among those leaving is Mr Patrick Kennedy, the Undersecretary for Management at the State Department. The 44-year State Department veteran is retiring, following other veteran diplomats overseeing the department's operations in the Middle East and Europe, among other places.

Former senior officials said Mr Kennedy had wanted to remain in his post. He declined a request for comment.

Mr Kennedy became embroiled in controversies over the 2012 attack on the United States Consulate in Libya and Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server when she was secretary of state.

The others include assistant secretaries Michele Bond and Joyce Barr, as well as director Lydia Muniz of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, and head of diplomatic security Gregg Starr, according to a State Department official who asked not to be identified because the resignations were not formally announced.

Mr Trump's choice for secretary of state, Mr Rex Tillerson, is expected to be confirmed as soon as Monday. The White House is expected to name a deputy for Mr Tillerson within a few days.

Leading candidates are Republican foreign policy specialists who are not serving in government.

WASHINGTON POST, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2017, with the headline 'Several senior US State Dept officials removed from posts'. Print Edition | Subscribe