SFRC Clears Gonzales (Lesotho), Johnson (Namibia), Goldstein (R) and Lawler (Protocol)

Posted: 12:10 am ET

 

On Tuesday, November 14, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) held a business meeting to consider several items on their agenda including over half a dozen State Department nominations.  The panel held over the nomination of  Eric M. Ueland, of Oregon, to be Under Secretary of State  for Management. Senator Corker on video said that the nomination will be taken up the next business meeting, but there is no announced date at this time. This announcement was made at the 24.00 mark of this video after Senator Corker said that they had a very unsatisfactory meeting with the State Department regarding the reorganization, and that they need to do more to hold the agency accountable.

The SFRC cleared the following nominees:

Ms. Rebecca Eliza Gonzales, of Texas, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Lesotho

Ms. Lisa A. Johnson, of Washington, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Namibia

Mr. Irwin Steven Goldstein, of New York, to be Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy

Mr. Sean P. Lawler, of Maryland, to be Chief of Protocol, and to have the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service

The panel also cleared the following list:

FSO LIST

Lisa-Felicia Afi Akorli, et al., dated November 1, 2017 (PN 1199)

John R. Bass, II, et al., dated November 1, 2017 (PN 1200)

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SFRC Hearings: Goldstein, Gonzales, Johnson, Evans, Lawler #OBE

Posted: 12:18 am ET
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We missed the Nov 1 confirmation hearings at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so this is an OBE post. We are posting them below to easily retrieve the nominees’ prepared testimonies and provide a link to the video.  We have also added links to the Certificates of Competency for Chiefs of Mission. Per Section 304 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, Certificates of Competency must be presented to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for presidential nominees to be Chief of Mission that demonstrate the competence of [a] nominee to perform the duties of the position in which he or she is to serve. Unfortunately, there is no such requirements for top ranking nominees in the State Department.

Date: Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: SD-419
Presiding: Senator Portman

Click here for the video of the confirmation hearing.

Mr. Irwin Steven Goldstein
Of New York, To Be Under Secretary Of State For Public Diplomacy
Download Testimony

Ms. Rebecca Eliza Gonzales
Gonzales, Rebecca Eliza – Kingdom of Lesotho – September 2017
Of Texas, A Career Member Of The Senior Foreign Service, Class Of Minister-Counselor, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Kingdom Of Lesotho |
Download Testimony

Ms. Lisa A. Johnson
Johnson Lisa A. – Republic of Namibia – October 2017
Of Washington, A Career Member Of The Senior Foreign Service, Class Of Counselor, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Republic Of Namibia
Download Testimony

Mr. James Randolph Evans
(certificate not available at state.gov as of 11/2/2017)
Of Georgia, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To Luxembourg
Download Testimony

Mr. Sean P. Lawler
o
f Maryland, To Be Chief Of Protocol, And To Have The Rank Of Ambassador During His Tenure Of Service
Download Testimony

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Founding Member of Mar-a-Lago Club Robin Bernstein to be U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic

Posted: 4:23 am ET
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On October 31, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Robin Bernstein, a founding member of The Mar-a-Lago Club  to be the next U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic. The WH released the following brief bio:

Robin Bernstein to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Dominican Republic.  Ms. Bernstein has served as President and Director of Richard S. Bernstein and Associates, Inc. since 2004, and Vice President and Director of Rizbur, Inc. since 2002, both of West Palm Beach, Florida.  For four decades, she has provided leadership and management to the business, government, and the non-profit communities of Florida.  Currently, she is co-founder of Palm Beach Country Cares, a Florida relief effort for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Ms. Bernstein earned a B.A. from American University School of International Service and an M.B.A. from George Washington University.  She speaks French and basic Spanish.

This nomination has the potential to be the more contentious of the Trump ambassador nominations due to her association with Mar-a-Lago, but also because she was one of Trump’s 2016 Presidential Electors.

But hey, it’s the U.S. Senate where its “advice and consent” role often constitutes a light touch — just a few public questions, and whether or not the nominee has previously visited the country. In some of these public hearings, they have four-five nominees for an hour or so, most of that taken up by the prepared testimonies of the nominees, the senators listening to themselves talk, and then a few questions for the nominees. If a nominee is in a panel with a controversial individual, the nominee might get just a question or two. If the nominee is the controversial one, or in the crosshairs of one or two of the senators, then the nominee might get most of the questions. Sometimes though, when a nominee comes unprepared, it blows up the house, and a normally inattentive public reacts in unexpected ways. But that does not happen often.

We must admit, however, that we suffer from low expectations when it comes to these confirmations. Since singing in a church choir, and being spouse of an ex-politician are deemed relevant qualifications for an ambassador, the bar for the Senate is low. Other than making a real spectacle of yourself in front of the cameras, like trampling through the salad bowl with no dressing, most political nominees get handed the keys to embassies after their quick confirmation hearings. Not unique to this administration, we should add, but USA Today, notes that “never in modern history has a president awarded government posts to people who pay money to his own companies.” So we’ll have to watch what happens with Corker and Flake who sits in the SFRC, and if McCain shows up for the hearing.

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Trump Nominates Career Diplomat Joel Danies to be U.S. Ambassador to Gabon/Sao Tome and Principe

Posted: 4:17 am ET
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On October 27, President Trump announced his intent to nominate career diplomat Joel Danies to be the U.S. Ambassador to Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe. The WH released the following brief bio:

Joel Danies of Maryland to be Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Gabonese Republic and the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe.  Mr. Danies, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1987.  He is currently Associate Dean of the School of Professional and Area Studies, Foreign Service Institute, at the Department of State.  Mr. Danies has served in senior-level Department of State positions at home and abroad.  He earned a master’s degree from National War College in Washington, D.C., and a bachelor’s degree from University of Maryland, College Park.  He speaks French, Haitian-Creole and Arabic.

Is it just us or are the bios of career diplomats getting the minimalist treatment now? The WH-released bio doesn’t mention prior assignments anymore, only that the nominee has “served in senior-level Department of State positions at home and abroad.”

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NSC’s Christopher Ford to be Asst Secretary For International Security and Non-Proliferation

Posted: 4:16 am ET
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On October 31, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Christopher A. Ford, currently with the National Security Council to be the next Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-Proliferation (ISN). The WH released the following brief bio:

Christopher Ashley Ford of Maryland to be an Assistant Secretary of State, International Security and Non-Proliferation.  Dr. Ford currently serves as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Counterproliferation at the National Security Council.  Dr. Ford served on several different committees in the U.S. Senate, served as a State Department official, and worked as a senior fellow at Hudson Institute.  Dr. Ford is the author of three books – China Looks at the West: Identity, Global Ambitions, and the Future of Sino-American Relations (2015), The Mind of Empire: China’s History and Modern Foreign Relations (2010), and The Admirals’ Advantage: U.S. Navy Operational Intelligence in World War II and the Cold War (2005) – and scores of articles and monographs.  He also served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, receiving an Honorable Discharge at the rank of Lieutenant Commander.  Dr. Ford earned an A.B., summa cum laude, at Harvard University, a D.Phil. at Oxford University in the United Kingdom (as a Rhodes Scholar), and a J.D. at Yale Law School.  A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, he lives with his family in Bethesda, Maryland.

Back in January, in a piece about the NSC, WaPo notes the following:

Longtime senate staffer Christopher Ford has joined the NSC staff to work on non-proliferation and nuclear issues. Ford has served as chief council for the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Senate Banking Committee and most recently the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. During the George W. Bush administration, Ford was a deputy assistant secretary of state in the bureau of arms control and international security, then led by John Bolton.

His Wikipedia page is here.

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American Academy of Diplomacy Opposes Nomination of Stephen Akard as @StateDept Personnel Chief

Posted: 2:10 am ET
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In a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) Chairman Bob Corker and Ranking Member Ben Cardin, released publicly on October 30, the American Academy of Diplomacy (AAD) requests that the senators oppose the nomination of Stephen Akard to be Director General of the Foreign Service:

The American Academy of Diplomacy requests that you oppose the nomination of Stephen Akard to serve as Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources at the State Department. We have concluded that voicing our concerns with Mr. Akard’s nomination is required if the Academy is to meet its most important mission: to promote and protect America’s interests in a dangerous world by supporting an effective American diplomacy based on a strong Foreign Service and a strong Civil Service.

It looks like the AAD requested to meet with the nominee but had not been successful. The letter authored by former senior diplomats Ambassadors Tom Pickering and Ronald Neumann on behalf of the group says about Mr. Akard, “We hold no personal animus toward him.”  But added that ” … we have concluded that Mr. Akard lacks the necessary professional background to be the Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources at the State Department. His confirmation would be contrary to Congress’s long standing intent and desire to create a professional American diplomatic service based on merit.

The letter further adds: “While Mr. Akard is technically eligible for the position, to confirm someone who had less than a decade in the Foreign Service would be like making a former Army Captain the Chief of Staff of the Army, the equivalent of a four-star general.”

The full letter is available to read here (pdf).

We’ve previously blogged about the Akard appointment on October 17 (see Trump’s Pick For @StateDept Personnel Chief Gets the Ultimate “Stretch” Assignment).

With the exception of noting this nomination on Twitter, and separately urging FS members “to embrace their roles as stewards of the institution”, we have not seen any public position on this nomination by the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), the professional association and labor union of the Foreign Service since 1924.

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CDA Caracas M. Lee McClenny to be U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay

Posted: 1:20 am ET
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On October 26, President Trump announced his intent to nominate M. Lee McClenny to be the U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay. The WH released the following brief bio:

M. Lee McClenny of Washington to be Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Paraguay.  Mr. McClenny, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, began his public service with the U.S. Information Agency in 1986.  He is currently the Chargé d’Affaires e.p. of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela.  He has previously served overseas in Kuala Lumpur, Montreal, Manila, London, Brussels, Guatemala City, Belgrade and Ottawa, as well as in leadership positions at the Department of State and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  Mr. McClenny is a recipient of the Presidential Meritorious Service Award, and numerous performance awards from the Department of State and U.S. Information Agency.  He received a B.A. from the University of Washington, and speaks Spanish, French, and some Serbo-Croatian and Russian.

Also see US Embassy Caracas: Chargé Lee McClenny Gets the Spotlight, Plus Two Weeks to Downsize

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Trump to Nominate Career Diplomat Peter H. Vrooman to be U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda

Posted: 1:16 am ET
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On October 26, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Peter Hendrick Vrooman to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda. The WH released the following brief bio:

Peter Hendrick Vrooman of New York to be Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Rwanda.  Mr. Vrooman, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1991.  He most recently served as Chargé d’Affaires from 2016 to 2017 and Deputy Chief of Mission from 2014 to 2016 at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Mr. Vrooman has held senior positions with the Department of State at home and at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, as well as overseas.  He has served at seven embassies in Africa, the Near East and South Asia.  Mr. Vrooman possesses a deep knowledge of East African issues, expertise in UN peacekeeping, strong management and public diplomacy credentials, and economic/commercial advocacy experience.  He earned a M.S from the National Defense University’s Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and a B.A. from Harvard College.  He speaks French and Arabic.

 

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Trump to Nominate FL State Representative Carlos Trujillo to be OAS Ambassador

Posted: 1:39 am ET
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On October 26, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Carlos Trujillo, a Florida State Representative to be the next U.S. Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS). The WH released the following brief bio:

Carlos Trujillo of Florida to be the Permanent Representative of the United States to the Organization of American States with the rank of Ambassador. Mr. Trujillo has been the Florida State Representative for the 105th District in the Florida House of Representatives, Tallahassee, Florida since 2010.  An attorney, he simultaneously has been the Founding Partner of Trujillo, Vargas, Gonzalez and Hevia LLP since 2011 and President of Carlos Trujillo, PA, since 2007.  Previously, he served as a Florida Assistant State Attorney at the Miami Dade County State Attorney’s Office in Miami from 2007 to 2011.  He also has been a Board Member of the Public Health Trust of Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.  Mr. Trujillo earned a B.S. from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama and a J.D. from Florida State College of Law in Tallahassee.  He speaks fluent Spanish.

The Chief of Mission has the title of Permanent Representative of the U.S.A. to the Organization of American States, with the rank of Ambassador; until April 12, 1971, this position was also Representative of the U.S.A. on the Council of the Organization of American States, with the rank of Ambassador.

If confirmed, Mr. Trujillo would succeed noncareer appointee Carmen L. Lomellin who served from 2009–2016 according to history.state.gov.  Mari Del Carmen Aponte was nominated for this position on July 31, 2014, but the nomination was not acted upon by the Senate. She was re-nominated on July 8, 2015, and the nomination was not acted upon and eventually was returned to President Obama on January 3, 2017.

The last career appointee to this position was John F. Maisto who was previously U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua and Venezuela prior to his appointment to the OAS. He served as Permanent Representative of the U.S.A. to the Organization of American States (Washington) from 2003 to 2006.

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SFRC Clears 23 @StateDept Nominations, Including 18 Ambassador Nominees and One FS List

Posted: 1::58 pm PT
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On October 26, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared the following executive nominations for the State Department

AMBASSADORS

HAITI | The Honorable Michele Jeanne Sison, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Haiti.

NETHERLANDS | The Honorable Peter Hoekstra, of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

INDIA | The Honorable Kenneth Ian Juster, of New York, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of India.

DJIBOUTI |  The Honorable Larry Edward Andre, Jr., of Texas, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Djibouti.

VIETNAM| Mr. Daniel J. Kritenbrink, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

TIMOR-LESTE |  Ms. Kathleen M. Fitzpatrick, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

SPAIN & ANDORRA |  Mr. Richard Duke Buchan III, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Spain, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Andorra.

GERMANY |  Mr. Richard Grenell, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Germany.

FRANCE & MONACO | Ms. Jamie McCourt, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the French Republic, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Principality of Monaco.

SWITZERLAND & LIECHTENSTEIN | Mr. Edward T. McMullen, Jr., of South Carolina, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to 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.

CAMEROON | Mr. Peter Henry Barlerin, of Colorado, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Cameroon.

MAURITANIA |  Mr. Michael James Dodman, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister- Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.

ANGOLA |  Ms. Nina Maria Fite, of Pennsylvania, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister- Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Angola.

ZAMBIA |  Mr. Daniel L. Foote, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Zambia.

MAURITIUS & SEYCHELLES | Mr. David Dale Reimer, of Ohio, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Mauritius, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Seychelles.

NIGER | Mr. Eric P. Whitaker, of Illinois, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Niger.

CROATIA | Mr. W. Robert Kohorst, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Croatia.

DENMARK | Ms. Carla Sands, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Denmark.

STATE DEPARTMENT

DIPLOMATIC SECURITY |Mr. Michael T. Evanoff, of Arkansas, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Diplomatic Security).

ECONOMIC/BUSINESS AFFAIRS | Ms. Manisha Singh, of Florida, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Economic and Business Affairs).

LEGAL ADVISOR | Ms. Jennifer Gillian Newstead, of New York, to be Legal Advisor of the Department of State

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM | The Honorable Samuel Dale Brownback, of Kansas, to be Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.

ICAO | Mr. Thomas L. Carter, of South Carolina, for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as Representative of the United States of America on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

The SFRC also cleared one FSO list (PN1066 FOREIGN SERVICE nominations (61) beginning Julie P. Akey, and ending Vera N. Zdravkova, which nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record of October 2, 2017).

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Previously, the SFRC cleared the following nominations that to-date have yet to get their full Senate votes:

Aug 03, 2017 Reported by Mr. Corker, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.

Jay Patrick Murray, of Virginia, to be Alternate Representative of the United States of America for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador.

Jay Patrick Murray, of Virginia, to be an Alternate Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, during his tenure of service as Alternate Representative of the United States of America for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations.

Sep 19, 2017 Reported by Mr. Corker, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.

Doug Manchester, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Kathleen Troia McFarland, of New York, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Singapore.

EUROPEAN BANK FOR RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT

Steven T. Mnuchin, of California, to be United States Governor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, United States Governor of the African Development Fund, and United States Governor of the Asian Development Bank, vice Jacob Joseph Lew, resigned.

Sep 28, 2017 Placed on the Calendar pursuant to S.Res. 116, 112th Congress.

Mary Kirtley Waters, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Legislative Affairs), vice Julia Frifield.

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