January 26th, 2017

State Department: did they resign or were they pushed?*

Right now I don’t have several free hours to take on the task of trying to sort out the confusion in this story, as evidence by the first three headlines listed at Memeorandum:

From the WaPo: “The State Department’s entire management team just resigned.”

From Talking Points Memo: “Report: Entire State Department Management Team Fired By Trump Admin.”

“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” David Wade, State Department chief of staff under Secretary of State John Kerry, told the newspaper. “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.”

From CNN: “Trump administration asks top State Department officials to leave.”

Legal Insurrection’s Mary Chastain writes:

No one knows for sure if Kennedy left on his own or if someone pushed him out. He had taken on the responsibility to help the transition to the Trump administration. Him leaving surprised many in the department. One officials told the Post that all of those people “had previously submitted their letters of resignation, as was required for all positions that are appointed by the president and that require confirmation by the Senate, known as PAS positions.”

But Ambassador Richard Boucher, a former State Department spokesman under Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, said that usually the old team stays put to help the new team transition smoothly. He cannot believe these people left such important positions unmanned…

And at Hot Air, John Sexton writes:

Patrick Kennedy was the person working behind the scenes to downgrade classified emails found on Hillary Clinton’s private server. When the first SECRET email turned up on Clinton’s server, Kennedy intervened three different times to ask the FBI to change its mind about the classification…

In addition to his role as fixer for Clinton at the State Department, Kennedy was ultimately responsible for decisions regarding security at the Benghazi consulate. The review board did not find Kennedy responsible for the decision to cut security, but chargé d’affaires Gregory Hicks testified he believed Kennedy should have been held at least partly responsible.

As far as I can see, we still don’t know the sequence of events.

We also still don’t know whether this matters or will have a positive or negative effect on State Department business. My guess? Positive.

[NOTE: The title of this post is a reference to this Richard Thompson song.]

37 Responses to “State Department: did they resign or were they pushed?*”

  1. Cornhead Says:

    This is THE news of the day. Rex puts in his people. POTUS has his ambassadors. Everything changes.

    Expect a similar purge at the CIA.

  2. OM Says:

    Could have been worse, in the old days in other countries, it was defenestration.

  3. huxley Says:


    My bet is the “department expertise,” which David Wade says is “so hard to replicate,” will turn out to be eminently replaceable and, with any luck, not replicated.

  4. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Drain the Swamp.

  5. Artfsldgr Says:

    its not a purge when they quit and walk out…

    duh. the idea that we use soviet terms for really horrible things in some abstract way that makes the trivial thing seem bigger and reduces purges to nothings is part of the game of minimize the negative of the left, maximize the negative of the not left.

    As far as I can see, we still don’t know the sequence of events.

    and we wont in our lifetimes… end of story
    you can only guess, that either way, the point was either to agree to leave and be left alone, or to stay and be on the roasting spit turning in the fire as your others throw you under the bus. heck, even if you dont know what comes next, you leave when your part of THAT kind of machine

    my boss this morning decided to retire and THATS how he gets rid of the project that is a albatross and a dead end and leaves us holding the bag…

    and he was just on a dead project, not a politico with the world chasing after his but. besides, his side will insure his complicity and cooperation by giving him a job before the door closes on the building as he walks out.

  6. Artfsldgr Says:

    by the way, this makes the left and dems Political Bulemics, as they binge when in power and purge to escape punishment… 😉

  7. Griffin Says:

    According to the labor union (why do they have one, again?) for the United States Foreign Service this is to quote “nothing unusual”.

    So there’s that. Not that it will stop the media freakout.

  8. CapnRusty Says:

    Maybe they got a tip that subpoenas were coming . . .

  9. Lizzy Says:

    Per the AP’s longtime State dept. reporter Mike Lee:

    “They are presidential appointees who submit resignations during every transition. Their resignations were accepted.” The media is making a “scandal” out of standard administration transition activities.

    Given that the State Dept. has so recently been embroiled in scandals – complicity in Hillary’s FBI-investigated careless classified docs handling & pay to play, Benghazi, the Iran Deal – it is a good idea to start fresh.

  10. chuck Says:

    See here: “Senior always resign when a new president comes on board. It is up to the president to accept or reject those resignations. It appears the Trump team accepted the resignations. It’s a fake crisis.”

  11. parker Says:

    Oh my, the obama State Department “management team” is gone. The rest of the world will hate us!

    Good riddance indeed. EPA employees crying. Pussy hats marching. If I had known the ‘destruction’ Trump would cause I would have been more positive about his candidacy. All the federal departments should be fumigated. Others, for example the department of education, should be abolish.


    Even FDR considered public employee unions anathema. Perhaps Trump can get comgress to do something about federal employee unions.

  12. chuck Says:

    @parker Federal employee unions were authorized by executive order during the Kennedy administration.

  13. Griffin Says:

    parker, That would be great and would make Scott Walker and Madison look like a polite gathering. Good lord the drama if they tried to get rid of federal unions would be unlike anything this country has seen.

  14. huxley Says:

    Looks like it’s another overblown anti-Trump story.

    Darn! I was hoping Trump had rolled the entire top tier.

  15. OM Says:


    rur roh!

  16. parker Says:


    I forgot about JFK’s perfidy, though I knew about it a long time ago. Thanks. Another chance for Trump to use his pen and phone.

  17. Oldflyer Says:

    Saw a State Dept organization chart. They are all in a single chain, so they are not all key people at all.

    There will be some badly needed house cleaning here and there. The Border Patrol has also felt the broom.

    Let me go on record. Listened to Trump today at the GOP Retreat. He sounds damn Presidential. I know I underestimated him; but over and above that, I also think he is growing into the job day by day. I am becoming optimistic.

  18. Vanderleun Says:

    A man gets home, runs into his house, slams the door and shouts: “Honey, pack your bags. I won the lottery.”

    The wife says: “Wow! That’s great! Should I pack for the ocean, or should I pack for the mountains?

    He says: “I don’t care. Just get the fuck out.””

  19. OM Says:

    Into the gutter with Van.

  20. huxley Says:

    BTW, the Richard Thompson song neo mentions above and on which the topic title is based is well worth a listen.

    That song jumped off the vinyl first time I heard it. Reading up on the song today, I see that Thompson says it’s partly based on the death of Sandy Denny, the great singer/songwriter for the early Fairport Convention, who died falling down the stairs under odd circumstances.

  21. parker Says:


    Perhaps I am dense, but I see no double entendre in Vanderleun’s comment. Please enlighten me. And soon, because I am sleepy.

  22. parker Says:

    BTW, neo-neocon; I caught the Richard Thompson reference in the title of this essay.

    “She was there one minute
    And then she was gone the next
    Lying in a pool of herself
    With a twisted neck.”

  23. parker Says:


    At the time of Sandy Denny’s death officially it was the result of falling from a ladder. But you may have more current info or insight to Thompson’s lyrics.

    We lost a treasure when she died. Who Knows Where the Time Goes will be played at my funeral. I have made that very clear to my youngest son who I have told he will be in charge of the ceremony.

    “I have no fear of time.”

  24. huxley Says:

    parker: As I recall she fell down stairs and at the time there was some mystery how it killed her and some people wondered if the husband with whom she was not getting along might have been involved.

    From what I read today, it looks like she had fallen more than once due to substance/alcohol problems.

    Thompson doesn’t say “Did She Jump or Was She Pushed?” was definitively about Sandy Denny but that her death was an ingredient for the song.

    She was an amazing talent as a singer and a songwriter. As I also recall “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” was the very first song she wrote. Not too shabby!

    A fine and interesting choice for one’s funeral.

  25. parker Says:


    From the first Fairport album I suggest you go yo youtube and enter meet on the ledge. Great song, great lyrics. Phrophetic.

  26. huxley Says:

    parker: Well, technically that’s the second Fairport album, but it is the first Sandy Denny Fairport album, after she replaced the previous singer and provided much of what we have come to think of as the Fairport sound.

    “Meet on the Ledge” is a great song, though I could never get my hands around the lyrics.

    I got into Fairport with the “Liege & Lief” album, which is said to have launched the electric folk movement. As I recall — it’s been a while — Sandy Denny was the key influence in moving the group towards folk material while maintaining their electric edge. L&L still knocks me out.

  27. AesopFan Says:

    View from an intel pro, with some information I didn’t see reviewed elsewhere:

    ” But the theme of the biggest batch of resignations is clearly connection with the Benghazi debacle of 9/11/12, and the State Department’s foot-dragging and obfuscation during the investigation into it afterward.

    As a coda to this development: there are interesting aspects of the Benghazi disaster still to be ironed out. Hillary Clinton is still being sued in federal court by the mothers of Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods, two of the Americans killed in the 2012 attack, and the case against her is proceeding, in spite of Hillary’s efforts to have it dismissed. …
    Could more come up about the events in Benghazi the night of 9/11 to 9/12 2012? That will depend on Trump and the current Congress. Remember that 33 people who were evacuated from Benghazi that night have been under an effective gag order in the years since.

    That gag order amounted to the Obama administration exploiting federal law to keep the survivors from talking to Congress – as opposed to allowing them, properly, to tell Congress what they knew. The link clarifies that the law was being exploited in this way: the FBI, which had interviewed some of the survivors, was also prohibited by the administration from providing the transcripts of the interviews to Congress. Nothing in the non-disclosure law that applied to the survivors was applicable to the FBI interviews, which Congress had every right to obtain. But the interview transcripts were withheld anyway.

    If that policy changes under the Trump administration, the bill may yet come due on the deaths in Benghazi of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods.”

  28. parker Says:


    You are a decade or more younger than I. So I give some slack. IMO Denny was a supreme songwriter/singer. Nothing more IMO to be said.

    Now I turn off the light and snuggle up with mrs. parker.

  29. Yancey Ward Says:

    It is standard procedure for all appointed officials to offer letters of resignation to the incoming president, even if that president is of the same party as the previous president. I don’t keep track of these things on a historic basis, but it does sound like they were shown the door more quickly than they expected. Given the animus towards Trump, it is probably smart to show the door to all Obama appointees, and then some, and quickly.

  30. Morning Reads for Friday, January 27, 2017 - GeorgiaPol Says:

    […] Did they quit or were they fired? […]

  31. huxley Says:

    AesopFan: Benghazi still sticks in my craw. Such was my naivete I assumed it meant Obama would be impeached.

    Thanks for the update.

  32. MikeII Says:

    huxley :”Such was my naivete I assumed it meant Obama would be impeached.”
    I lost my naivete back when I thought Clinton would resign over the Monica Lewinski deal. Of course I was too young back when Kennedy was pulling the sheets over our heads. I now simply look at their past actions and assume this time will follow suit. Hillary and Obozo will continue to disappoint with no consequences. The generals who were dismissed because they were “spinning up” to go to their aid are much better Americans than their “Leaders” May history remember them and those who died there for their courage and forget the political hacks that posed as leaders. The one thing I do give to Trump- there will not be a Benghazi on his watch without a “Big Stick” to follow.

  33. huxley Says:

    Well, at least Clinton was impeached and for something far less consequential.

    In the case of Benghazi an American ambassador and three other Americans were killed by a tentacle of al-Qaeda on the anniversary of 9-11 while the Obama administration ordered possible aid to stand down and then afterward knowingly lied about the attack as random mob violence triggered by an obscure video.

  34. Richard Saunders Says:

    I watched Kennedy’s testimony in the Benghazi hearings, and thought, “A master of evasion, half-truths, and innuendo. A true diplomat!”

  35. AesopFan Says:

    Richard Saunders Says:
    January 27th, 2017 at 12:
    12:48 pm
    I watched Kennedy’s testimony in the Benghazi hearings, and thought, “A master of evasion, half-truths, and innuendo. A true diplomat!”
    * * *
    One of my all time favorite sf series was Keith Laumer’s Retief novels, the tales of the grand galactic diplomat whose main objective was to circumvent the hierarchy to get the job done.
    They were funny and overblown, but we all knew they had a kernel of truth about the way diplomats generally fouled things up; however, Retief would look at the current DoS madness with grim foreboding.

  36. huxley Says:

    One of my all time favorite sf series was Keith Laumer’s Retief novels, the tales of the grand galactic diplomat whose main objective was to circumvent the hierarchy to get the job done.

    AesopFan: Keith Laumer actually was a USAF officer and a diplomat in the US Foreign Service.

    Loved his stories!

    I’m hoping Trump will bring a no-nonsense, Retief-like approach to State.

  37. Big Maq Says:

    Would like to know how many clinton, GWB, and obama each brought on board?

    No doubt every president brought in his own team for all the key offices.

    It is practically required, if one wants to be sure that the behemoth bureaucracy will be managed in a direction one desires.

    It is a monumental task just to hire the ~1K-2K of staff to replace a good bit of those in place by the prior regime.

    Not sure this is a “story”, let alone something to be any more concerned about than about the general direction (or lack of one, at least known).

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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