9/19 SFRC Hearings: Jon Huntsman Jr. (Russia), Wess Mitchell (State/EUR)

Posted: 12:47 am ET


The SFRC is holding two hearings today, one for Ambassador Huntsman’s nomination to be the next Ambassador to Russia, and the second, Wess Mitchell’s nomination to be Assistant Secretary of State for the EUR Bureau.

Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: SD-419
Presiding: Senator Corker

Panel One

The Honorable Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.
Of Utah, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Russian Federation
His Certificate of Demonstrated Competence per Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4) is available here.

Panel Two

Mr. A. Wess Mitchell
Of Virginia, To Be An Assistant Secretary Of State (European And Eurasian Affairs)

The prepared statements and live video of the hearing will be available here.



Trump Economic Adviser Carla Sands to be U.S. Ambassador to Denmark

Posted: 1:16 am ET


On September 7, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Carla Sands as the next U.S. Ambassador to Denmark. The WH released the following brief bio:

Carla Sands of California to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Denmark. Ms. Sands has been the Chairman of Vintage Capital Group, L.L.C in Los Angeles since 2015; a company recognized by real estate industry as a professional, ethical and highly successful real estate firm. She is also a doctor of chiropractic and has been a television and film actress. Ms. Sands is a leader in the non-profit sector, working with organizations to improve the lives of children and the underprivileged. Demonstrating her commitment to improving education, she has served as a Board Member of Pepperdine University. In addition, Ms. Sands has served on the boards of organizations supporting the arts and culture. Ms. Sands earned a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic College, Marietta, Georgia.

A mored detailed biography is available here via Vintage Capital Group.

Ballotpedia notes that Carla Sands was a district-level delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention from California.  In summer 2016, she was named as one of Trump’s economic advisers. lists her as one of Trump’s 250 donors who shelled out $100k or more for Trump’s inauguration.



Career Diplomat Rebecca E. Gonzales to be U.S. Ambassador to Lesotho

Posted: 12:47 am ET


On September 7, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Rebecca Eliza Gonzales to be the U.S. Ambassador to Lesotho. The WH released the following brief bio:

Rebecca Eliza Gonzales of Texas to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Lesotho.Ms. Gonzales, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1992. She is currently the Chief of Staff of the Bureau of Administration at the Department of State. In previous positions as a Management Officer and senior official at the State Department, she is known for her leadership, crisis management skills and knowledge of Africa. She earned a M.S. from the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy at Fort McNair and both a M.B.A. and B.A from The George Washington University. She speaks Spanish and Greek.


View of Maseru, Lesotho via US Embassy Maseru/FB

Former Senior Diplomats Urge Tillerson to Make Public @StateDept’s Reorganization Plan

Posted: 2:14 pm PT


On September 18, the American Academy of Diplomacy released a letter from Ambassadors Thomas Pickering and Ronald Neumann asking that Secretary Tillerson make to the State Department’s reorganization plan public.  Below is the text of the letter, the full letter is posted at

We understand that the State Department reorganization plan forwarded to OMB has been deemed “pre-decisional” and will therefore not be made public.

On behalf of the Board of the American Academy of Diplomacy, a non-partisan and non-governmental organization comprising senior former career and non-career diplomatic practitioners, we ask that you reconsider this decision and make your recommendations available for public comment.  The Academy, whose only interest is in strengthening American diplomacy, is already on record supporting many needed changes in the State Department’s structure and staffing.  Indeed, we would hope to make the Academy’s extensive experience available and relevant to any conversations about the future of the Department so that we might be able to support the outcome of this process, just as we supported your decision on reducing special envoys.  We cannot do so if your vision and plans remain publicly unavailable.

As the recent report prepared by your consultants very properly highlighted, the Civil Service and Foreign Service employees who work for you are patriotic, dedicated, public servants.  Many have gone in harm’s way and more will do so.  For nearly eight months these employees, and many of their families, have lived in a state of suspended animation, not knowing how reorganization will affect their lives and careers.  In light of their sacrifices for our Country, it strikes us as unfair to ask them to remain in this limbo for additional months while the Administration considers in private your recommendations for change.

Keeping your decisions from public view will only fuel the suspicion and low morale which now affects so many in the Department.  We ask that you be transparent with those most affected by your efforts to build efficiency and expertise.  Not doing so prejudices their future support.  Your leadership and America’s diplomacy would be better served by allowing public comment.  It is on that basis that we respectfully ask that you reconsider this decision.


Related to this, Politico reported last week that “as part of his plan to restructure the State Department, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is pledging not to concentrate more power in his own hands — for now.” See Tillerson vows State Dept. redesign won’t concentrate power in his hands. Click here or image below to see the State Department-USAID Redesign Overview Capitol Hill Brief via Politico’s Nahal Toosi. Note the slide titled “What Redesign is Not.” There is no intention at this time to dismantle State or USAID at this time. Whewww! That’s a relief, hey?

Click on image to view the document.

Click on image to view the document: Redesign Overview Capitol Hill Brief, September 2017 via Politico



NYC Marketing Executive Steven Goldstein to be Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (R)

Posted: 1:02 am ET


On September 15, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Irwin Steven Goldstein to be Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy. The title is actually Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (R). The WH released the following brief bio:

Irwin Steven Goldstein of New York to be the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, Department of State. Mr. Goldstein has been a Senior Vice President at BP Global Solutions, a consulting firm in New York City, since 2012. His recent work includes serving as a senior advisor to Winning Algorithms, a data science start-up. In his four-decade career, Mr. Goldstein has led communications, branding, and social media efforts at several large private sector companies, including as senior vice president and chief communications officer at AllianceBernstein; executive vice president and chief communications officer at TIAA-CREF; and vice president, corporate communications at Dow Jones & Company. In the public sector, he was Assistant to the Secretary and Director of Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior and served five members of the U.S. House of Representatives, primarily as Chief of Staff or Press Secretary. Mr. Goldstein earned a B.A. at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

The nominee is also known as I. Steven Goldstein and his BP Global Solutions bio notes his prior service at the Department of Interior:

Steve’s experience includes seven years as Executive Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for TIAA, a Fortune 100 financial services firm providing retirement security to individuals in the not-for-profit sector. As Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for Dow Jones/The Wall Street Journal, Steve helped guide one of the world’s premier newspapers through a major redesign and through the tumultuous period following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In the administration of President George H.W. Bush, Steve served as an Assistant Secretary and the Director of Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior.  He previously was a press secretary and chief of staff on Capitol Hill.

There’s also another potential connection to the current denizens of Foggy Bottom. The nominee was EVP and Chief Communications Officer  for TIAA.  Maliz Beams, the former CEO of Retirement Solutions at Voya Financial recently hired as State Department Counselor was also previously the Chief Executive Officer of TIAA-CREF Individual and Institutional Services, LLC (see Former Voya Financial CEO Maliz Beams Appointed @StateDept Counselor).


Ex-DAS Manisha Singh to be Asst Secretary For Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (EB)

Posted: 12:53 am ET


On September 9, President Trump announced his intent to nominate former EB Bureau DAS Manisha Singh to be Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (EB). The WH released the following bio:

Manisha Singh of Florida to be Assistant Secretary of State, Economic and Business Affairs. Ms. Singh is Chief Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor to U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan. She is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs and has served as a senior aide to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Ms. Singh’s private sector experience includes practicing law at multinational law firms and working in-house at an investment bank. She earned an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from the American University Washington College of Law, a J.D. from the University of Florida College of Law and a B.A. from the University of Miami at the age of 19. In addition, she studied at the University of Leiden Law School in the Netherlands. She is licensed to practice law in Florida, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia and speaks fluent Hindi.

The nominee was previously the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade Policy and Programs at the State Department.  Her archived 2001-2009 bio includes more details:

She supervises four offices in the Bureau: Multilateral Trade Affairs; Bilateral Trade Affairs; Agriculture, Biotechnology and Textile Trade Affairs; and Intellectual Property Enforcement, with staff totaling over 50 people. She is responsible for developing and promoting trade policy within the foreign policy context. Her prior Department experience includes serving as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs. In this position, she was the key liaison on various issues to U.S. international organization missions in New York, Geneva, Paris, Vienna and Rome.

Before joining the Administration, she served as Deputy Chief Counsel to the Republican staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (2003-2007), working for Chairman/Ranking Member Senator Richard Lugar. There, she was responsible for international trade, economic and development matters, including treaties, free trade agreements, OPIC and WTO issues. Her duties also included confirmations of U.S. ambassadors and administration officials as well as oversight of U.S. government participation in entities such as the OECD and APEC. Examples of her work include several tax treaties, bilateral investment treaties and trade legislation including the bill granting PNTR to Ukraine, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which created a platform for trade and capacity building in sub-Saharan Africa, the United States Direct Investment Act, which was designed to promote the U.S. as a destination for foreign investment, and the Sanctions Policy Reform Act, which provided guidelines for the imposition of unilateral economic sanctions. She also managed passage of Senator Lugar’s World Intellectual Property Day resolution, and was responsible for global IP and pharmaceutical issues.

Her prior Capitol Hill experience includes serving as counsel to the Republican staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, where she managed the committee’s international commerce jurisdiction. Before working for the U.S. Congress, she was a practicing attorney at the law firms of Squire Sanders & Dempsey L.L.P. in the Corporate and Capital Markets group and Reed Smith LLP, where she represented privately held and publicly listed clients in domestic and cross border transactions. She also spent time at Stewart and Smith, Inc., where she advised financial investment firms regarding domestic and international legal issues impacting the market price of publicly held securities.

Ms. Singh completed a Master of Laws (LLM) in International Legal Studies, with concentration in international trade, at the American University Washington College of Law. While completing this degree, she worked in the Office of General Counsel at the United States International Trade Commission. After law school, she served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Edward F. Threadgill, Jr., then Chief Judge of the State of Florida Second District Court of Appeal. Her educational background includes earning a Juris Doctor (JD) from the University of Florida College of Law at the age of 22, and completing a Certificate at the University of Leiden in The Netherlands. She earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) with honors at the University of Miami at the age of 19. She speaks fluent Hindi and conversational Spanish. She is admitted to practice law in Florida, the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania. She is a member of the South Asian Bar Association and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.




U.S. Navy Vet Sean P. Lawler to Move From NSC to @StateDept to be Chief of Protocol

Posted: 12:51 am ET


On September 9, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Sean P. Lawler to be Chief of Protocol. The WH released the following bio:

Sean P. Lawler of Maryland to be Chief of Protocol and to have the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service. Mr. Lawler is the Director for Visits, Planning, and Diplomatic Affairs at the National Security Council. Prior to that, Mr. Lawler was the Chief, Office of Visits and Protocol at the U.S. Cyber Command in Fort Meade, Maryland. A veteran with more than 20 years of service in the U.S Navy, Mr. Lawler capped his military service as the Director of Administration at the Naval Support Facility Thurmont (Camp David) in Thurmont, Maryland. Earlier, he was the Administrative Department Leading Chief Petty Officer and Ship’s Secretary on the USS John C. Stennis and he was an Executive Assistant to the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.




Trump’s 2016 SC Campaign Director Edward T. McMullen, Jr. to be Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein

Posted: 12:49 am ET


On September, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Edward T. McMullen, Jr. to be U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The WH released the following brief bio:

Edward T. McMullen, Jr. of South Carolina to be to Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Swiss Confederation, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Principality of Liechtenstein. Mr. McMullen has served in public policy, political, and business positions for 31 years. Currently, he is President of McMullen Public Affairs with offices in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina and Washington, D.C. The firm is a full service advertising and corporate public affairs company that implements advertising, alliance development, corporate communications, predictive data analytics, and strategic consulting solutions for challenging business and public policy environments. Clients have included several fortune 100 companies. Mr. McMullen has been appointed by South Carolina state leaders to serve on key statewide boards and commissions. He earned a B.A. from Hampden Sydney College in Hampden Sydney, Virginia.

The Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce in Zurich sent a note to its members about the nominee. Excerpt below:

“Ed McMullen has close connections to Switzerland. He was elected a Young Leader by the American Swiss Foundation and participated in the Young Leaders program in 1995, spending a week in Switzerland with other Young Leaders from Switzerland and the USA, visiting many top governemt and political leaders and getting to know the country, its people and its values. Ed McMullen has since traveled in Switzerland many times. Rumors have it that his clear favorites included the Jungfraujoch and the Unspunnenfest in Interlaken, where he apparently even donated to the prizes of the Schwing competition.”

According to Ballotpedia, Ed McMullen was the South Carolina state director for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. McMullen previously worked for the Heritage Foundation, a 501(c)(3) policy think tank, as well as the South Carolina Policy Council. McMullen is the president of McMullen Public Affairs, a campaign communications firm located in Columbia, S.C. Read more here.




Career Diplomat David Dale Reimer to be U.S. Ambassador to Mauritius and Seychelles

Posted: 12:47 am ET


On September 2, President Trump announced his intent to nominate career diplomat David Dale Reimer to be the U.S. Ambassador to Mauritius and Seychelles. The WH released a brief bio:

David Dale Reimer of Ohio to be Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Mauritius and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Seychelles. Mr. Reimer, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1991. He is currently the Director of the Office of West African Affairs in the Bureau of African Affairs at the Department of State, a position he has held since 2015. A former Deputy Chief of Mission and Office Director, Mr. Reimer is known for his extensive knowledge of Africa and outstanding leadership skills, particularly in high-threat environments. He earned an M.P.I.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and a B.A. from Goshen College. He speaks French, Italian and German.






Ex-Ambassador Fitz Haney Joins Dancing With the Stars Costa Rica! #FitzyLuci

Posted: 5:06 am ET


The U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica Fitzgerald Haney, as far as we know, the only Obama appointed political ambassador given an extension by the Trump administration, concluded his assignment at the U.S. Embassy in San Jose this past July.  The new Trump ambassador, Sharon Day was confirmed on August 4 so she should get to post shortly.

Meanwhile, the former ambassador and his family have decided to stay in Costa Rica because the kids are stable and happy in San Jose. And then this: Ambassador Haney said, “As I contemplate possible next steps professionally, I have decided to embark on another adventure/challenge: Dancing with The Stars Costa Rica.”

That’s right, we’ll have a new addition to our Dancing With The Stars: The Foreign Service Edition; and it’s the real thing in Costa Rica!

Ambassador Haney told us that they started rehearsals about a month ago and debuted this past Sunday on Costa Rica’s number one TV station – Teletica.  If you would like to see how he did (his partner Lucía Jiménez is a two-time World Salsa Champion), check this out — they’ve got the moves: His young daughter gave him a 9 out of 10 score adding in Spanish on national TV, “I’d say for a gringo dancing salsa, he did pretty well.”

The U.S. Embassy in San Jose posted a video of the former ambassador’s DWST-Costa Rica debut here and the clip now has over 100K views.  The former ambassador with deadpan humor said, “I am sure [it] has provided innumerable people some much needed entertainment.”  He said that he decided to participate as a way of helping to continue to raise awareness for breast cancer. His wife Andrea was previously diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. He added that he will donate all related earnings, royalties, etc. to the local foundation Dra. Anna Gabriela Ross (, one of the premiere organizations providing support for families dealing with all types of cancer in Costa Rica.

The former ambassador hopes to make it to the finals.  If you want to vote, go to The show airs Sundays at 7pm CST and will be available on the internet as well  Get ready, it’ll be waltz this Sunday.