Culture

Donald Trump Orders All Of Obama’s Ambassadors To Leave Their Posts By Inauguration Day

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Donald Trump’s full of bold moves lately. No one should be surprised by this, but he’s still managing to somewhat shock people, not so much by deciding to revamp intelligence agencies as when he chooses to ask Congress to fund the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Somewhere in between those two maneuvers, Trump has sent marching orders to all politically appointed ambassadors, who must leave their overseas posts by Inauguration Day.

The direction, which was handed out by the Trump transition team, will allow for no grace period. Trump is breaking with precedent (at least when it comes to the past few decades), for presidents generally decide whether a specific ambassador can stick around on a case-by-case basis. Unfortunately, Trump’s move not only creates some awkward vacancies but gives very little notice to the individuals (and their families) themselves:

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.

Mr. Trump has taken a hard line against leaving any of President Obama’s political appointees in place as he prepares to take office on Jan. 20 with a mission of dismantling many of his predecessor’s signature foreign and domestic policy achievements. “Political” ambassadors, many of them major donors who are nominated by virtue of close ties with the president, almost always leave at the end of his term; ambassadors who are career diplomats often remain in their posts.

A Trump transitional official told the NY Times that this wasn’t a spiteful move, for he simply wants to clean house and find replacements who share his policies. So, a few diplomats shared stories of displaced ambassadors with the paper. Some of them — who expected to stay on, possibly for quite some time — are now frantically searching for new housing and visas to keep their children in stable positions through the current school year:

In Costa Rica, Ambassador Stafford Fitzgerald Haney is hunting for a house or an apartment as his family — which includes four school-age children and his wife, who has been battling breast cancer — struggles to figure out how to avoid a move back to the United States with five months left in the school year, according to the diplomats.

In the Czech Republic, they said, Ambassador Andrew H. Schapiro is seeking housing in Prague as well as lobbying his children’s Chicago-based school to break with policy and accept them back midyear. In Brussels and Geneva, Denise Bauer, the United States ambassador to Belgium, and Pamela Hamamoto, the permanent representative to the United Nations, are both trying to find a way to keep daughters from having to move just months before their high school graduation.

The NY Times also points out how Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all granted some extensions to ambassadors who had to leave. However, Trump appears to be so intent upon erasing Obama’s legacy and establishing his own that he’s making a clean break and ordering everyone out, no matter what.

(Via New York Times)

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