Donald Trump’s team has ordered all politically appointed ambassadors serving in overseas posts to leave by Inauguration Day, according to a report in The New York Times.
The mandate — issued “without exceptions,” according to a terse State Department cable sent on Dec. 23, diplomats who saw it said — threatens to leave the United States without Senate-confirmed envoys for months in critical nations like Germany, Canada and Britain. In the past, administrations of both parties have often granted extensions on a case-by-case basis to allow a handful of ambassadors, particularly those with school-age children, to remain in place for weeks or months.
An unnamed senior Trump transition official told the Times there was “no ill will” in the order and said the ambassadors shouldn’t be surprised by the requirement, which is simply meant to ensure the appointees leave on time.
Ronald E. Neumann, the president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, an association for former ambassadors and senior diplomats, said the order isn’t unreasonable although it is a bit surprising.
“When you have people out there whose only reason for being an ambassador is their political connection to the outgoing president of a different party, it’s pretty logical to say they should leave,” Neumann, a career Foreign Service officer, told the Times. “But I don’t recollect there was ever a guillotine in January where it was just, ‘Everybody out of the pool immediately.’”
Many ambassadors may directly appeal the decision with Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, according to the Times.