Posted: 10:15 am PT
Posted: 10:15 am PT
Posted: 5:47 pm PT
Secretary of State John Kerry together with former Secretaries of State Madeleine K. Albright, Colin L. Powell, and Hillary Rodham Clinton marked the completion of the U.S. Diplomacy Center Pavilion located at the State Department’s 21st Street Entrance on January 10 with a well-attended reception.
The U.S. Diplomacy Center (@DiplomacyCenter) will be a 40,000 square foot, state-of-the-art museum and education center dedicated to telling the story of American diplomacy. Visitors will explore the role of diplomacy through interactive exhibits, compelling artifacts, hands-on education programs, and diplomatic simulations. The Center’s goal is “to demonstrate the ways in which diplomacy matters now and has mattered throughout American history. Diplomacy and the work of our diplomats in over 250 embassies, consulates, and other diplomatic missions are vital to our nation’s power, image, and ability to advance its interests around the globe.”
The funds used for this project? The Department of State has a public-private partnership with the Diplomacy Center Foundation (DCF), founded by the late Senator Charles McC. Mathias, Ambassador Stephen Low and others. The costs for the construction of the museum and the fabrication of the exhibits are raised through a private sector capital campaign. The Department of State contributes space, staff and security for the Center. Taxpayers will not be paying for building the USDC; the center makes up less than .003% of the Department of State’s annual budget.
Here is a bit of history on the Center via the Foundation:
Foreign Service Ambassador Stephen Low (1927 — 2010) and Senator Charles “Mac” Mathias, R-MD (1922-2010) formed the Foreign Affairs Museum Council (FAMC), a nonprofit organization, to help build the first facility dedicated to American diplomacy in the United States and to raise funds from the private sector for the project. In 2013 the FAMC Board of Directors changed the name to Diplomacy Center Foundation. […] In 1999, Ambassador Low and Senator Mathias met with Secretary Madeleine K. Albright about their vision for a museum and education center of American diplomacy. Secretary Albright recognized the need and decreed that the museum should be located at the Department of State.
In 2010, Secretary Clinton appointed Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, Ambassador to Portugal, retired, to lead the fund-raising efforts on behalf of the Department. Simultaneously, the leadership of the Foreign Affairs Museum Council was assumed by William C. Harrop, a career Foreign Service Officer who had served as United States Ambassador to five countries. To date, $47.5 million of private sector funds have been raised from corporations, foundation and individuals toward the $55 million needed to build the Center. Under this new Pavilion will be the Founding Ambassadors Concourse where educational conferences, symposia and other USDC events will take place. The Founding Ambassadors initiative is led by Stuart A. Bernstein, Ambassador to Denmark, retired.
Posted: 4:36 pm PT
Updated: 6:02 pm PT
Updated: Jan 10, 2:29 am ET
The United States has 170 embassies and 11 missions other than an Embassy headed by a chief of mission (OSCE, UNVIE, USOAS, USOECD, USEU, USUN, USNATO, USUN Geneva, USAU, ASEAN, and US Mission to Somalia). About 30 percent of these posts are encumbered by political/noncareer appointees (about 50 ambassadors), while the remaining 70 percent are filled by career diplomats.
The NYT coverage of Jan. 5 says that the Trump’s transition staff has issued a blanket edict requiring politically appointed ambassadors to leave their overseas posts by Inauguration Day, and that the mandate was issued “without exceptions.” The piece quotes Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann, the president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, who tells NYT that it is reasonable to expect ambassadors to return at the end of a term, given that they are direct representatives of the president with broad grants of authority.
“But I don’t recollect there was ever a guillotine in January where it was just, ‘Everybody out of the pool immediately.’”
The article also quotes Ambassador Marc Grossman who cites former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell who reportedly offered particularly wide latitude to ambassadors facing family issues. “This was something that was important to Secretary Powell because of his own experience living and serving all over the world, so when people asked him, ‘Could I stay another couple of weeks, couple of months; my kids are finishing school,’ he was very accommodating,” Mr. Grossman said, adding that his flexibility was an “exception” to the general practice.
Secretary Powell was an “exception” to the general practice of the wholesale departure of political appointees at the beginning of every administration.
By Tradition, All Political Ambassadors Are Expected to Leave By January 20
All political appointees, including ambassadors “serve at the pleasure of the president.” All appointees of the outgoing administration are expected to leave by the time a new president is sworn into office on January 20. We’ve heard that some chiefs of mission have made requests for extensions to their tenure overseas but until this week, no one reportedly received an official response. We understand that some folks were looking for the cable directive but could not locate it. We’ve asked State about the cable requesting the COM resignations and the nonresponse to these requests last week but we were later directed to the Transition Team. To-date we have not received a response to our inquiry.
To read more about this Foreign Service tradition, see FDR’s Request For the Formal Resignations of All Chiefs of U.S. Diplomatic Missions Overseas from 1940 and 1944.
Political Ambassadors: We understand that there was no general cable issued this year and that the resignation instructions to the ambassadors came by email. Individual cables were reportedly sent to political appointees who requested extensions telling them the requests were declined. These cables directed to individual ambassadors would have been captioned personnel channel and would have had limited distribution. Political ambassadors who did not request extensions did not receive such a cable as it was understood they will depart by January 20.
Career Ambassadors: The scuttlebutt in our inbox said that for the first time the new administration will actually ask some career ambassadors for their resignations as well. This rumor is not/not true. We can confirm that career ambassadors were not/not required to submit resignation letters to the Trump Transition. Career ambassadors received this notification last month. If we’re looking for a break in precedent, this might be it. This year, there has been no directive, or expectation for career Foreign Service ambassadors to have to submit resignations at the end of the Obama term.
Here is State Department spokesman John Kirby:
The Hows and Whys of Ambassadorial Extensions
Political ambassadors are some of the president’s, shall we say, best friends. Just as the Bush political ambassadors were closely identified with President George W. Bush, the Obama political ambassadors are also closely identified with President Barack Obama. All ambassadors are direct representatives of the president. However, political ambassadors are partisan operatives who received their appointments due to their political support of the president. There is therefore, no incentive for any incoming administration, whether Democratic or Republican, to extend the appointments of their political opponents.
Getting political ambassadors to leave is less urgent when the president is on his second term or if the president-elect is from the same party . For example, President Obama appointed Bruce J. Oreck as Ambassador to Finland in 2009. His tenure actually extended to the second Obama term and he did not leave until 2015. President George W. Bush appointed his pal Roy L. Austin as Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, and his tenure spanned the full two Bush terms.
When there is a change of administration from one political party to the other, as we currently have, the departures become more imperative. Did some Bush ambassadors asked for extensions when President Obama came to office? Yes. Did the Obama Transition Team agree? In one case we could find, yes. We don’t have all the names of those given extensions but the AP’s Matt Lee (@APDiplowriter) tweeted that according to officials, in the past two inter-party transitions (Clinton-Bush, Bush-Obama) only about 10 political ambassadors have gotten extensions. That one example we found is noncareer Ambassador Peter Cianchette who was appointed to Costa Rica by President George W. Bush in May 2008. He stayed in office until June 19, 2009, five months after President Obama’s inauguration. One of our readers alerted us that Ambassador Dick Morningstar was appointed to the European Union by President Bill Clinton on July 7, 1999. He was allowed to remain at post by Powell/Armitage up to September 21, 2001, eight months into President George W. Bush’s first term. A blog pal also reminded us that noncareer Ambassador Ford M. Fraker was appointed by President George W. Bush as US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia in May 2007, and departed post in February 8, 2009, a few weeks into President Obama’s tenure.
So it happens, though not often, but …
There is nothing that prevents the Trump Transition from granting some of these requests on a case by case basis. We should note that President-elect Trump has announced his nominees for the United Nations, China and Israel. While there are rumors of nominees for certain posts, the president elect needs to appoint about 50 ambassadorships as he assume office in two weeks. Based on time required to vet nominees, process security clearance, training, and Senate confirmation, we estimate that the firsts of the new ambassadors may not get even to post until late spring or summer. Also, the Trump Landing Team at the State Department includes two former political ambassadors from the George W. Bush years and one former career diplomat (see Trump Transition: Agency Landing Team For @StateDept Includes Old Familiar Names). They should know what this is like, right?
That said, we have to acknowledge that it is the incoming administration’s prerogative whether to accept or decline extension requests. The new administration holds all the keys.
In a perfect world, Secretary Powell’s “exception” to general practice ought to be the rule. Folks with kids in school would then be able to depart posts without too much disruption for school and the family. But we do not live in a perfect world. We are sympathetic about not pulling kids out of school in the middle of the school year. Nothing to do with political ambassadorships (kids don’t get to vote what their parents do) just the recognition, from personal experience that moving kids in the middle of a school year is hard and challenging. While most kids in the Foreign Service are indeed resilient and adaptable, not everyone has that gift.
A side note — even in the career Foreign Service, the “needs of the service” does not really consider “family issues” even when it should. Just part and parcel of the job. At other times, of course, it simply couldn’t. The risks of diplomatic assignments range from coup d’etats and civil unrests to natural disasters which means that career diplomatic employees and family members have “go-bags” and must always be ready for evacuation orders to leave homes, schools, friends, even pets, at a moment’s notice (See Children of diplomats displaced by strife often caught between two worlds). A sad reality of the Foreign Service, and a reflection of the ongoing disruptions in various parts of the world.
Embassies Won’t go “Empty”
Finally, as the NYT reported, some of our largest, and most desirable diplomatic posts like France, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Sweden, Belgium, etc. will leave our embassies without Senate-confirmed ambassadors. While this is true, this does not mean that posts will go “empty”. At these ambassadors departures, their deputy ambassadors who are career diplomats would step up as chargé d’affaires (CDAs) until the new appointees get to posts. Maybe it will take six months, maybe eight, we don’t know at this point how fast the Senate can get them confirmed, though it would be a shorter wait if the new nominees are from the career service.
Note: We remain interested in the resignation instruction to COMs sent via cable so we can compare it to FDR’s. Nerdy request. If you have a copy of the 2008 cable, please drop us a line.
Some hot and cold reactions from here and there:
Posted: 2:22 am ET
Updated: Jan 12, 4:55 PM PT
Apparently, a viral image created by the group called the Other 98 with three Republican senators who once blasted lax embassy security in Benghazi, Libya made the social media rounds recently and readers asked @PolitiFact to check it out. “The image includes pictures of three Republican senators — Ted Cruz of Texas, Dean Heller of Nevada and Marco Rubio of Florida — along with the caption, “The same 3 senators who have spent the last 3 years s——- themselves over ‘Benghazi!’ just introduced a bill to reduce embassy security by 50 percent.” PolitiFact judged the meme “mostly false” but this blogpost was accused of being a “fake news’. We’ve re-read our reporting on this issue and there’s nothing that we feel needs a correction. For those who are new in this blog, you can read our post below, and you can also read the similar points made by PolitiFact here.
On January 3, Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) announced that he, along with Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), have introduced the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act, “legislation that would fulfill America’s commitment to Israel to relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
Excerpt from Heller’s announcement:
“My support for Israel is unwavering. From my very first days as a United States Senator, I have prioritized the strengthening of the important relationship shared between Israel and the United States. That’s why I’m proud to reintroduce the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act. For years, I’ve advocated for America’s need to reaffirm its support for one of our nation’s strongest allies by recognizing Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. It honors an important promise America made more than two decades ago but has yet to fulfill. While Administrations come and go, the lasting strength of our partnership with one of our strongest allies in the Middle East continues to endure. My legislation is a testament to that.
The announcement quotes Senator Marco Rubio: “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state of Israel, and that’s where America’s embassy belongs. It’s time for Congress and the President-Elect to eliminate the loophole that has allowed presidents in both parties to ignore U.S. law and delay our embassy’s rightful relocation to Jerusalem for over two decades.”
It also says that Heller’s bill “withholds certain State Department funds until that relocation is complete.”
That is some understatement. The bill does not withhold just any State Department funds but embassy security funds.
This is a similar bill Senator Heller had introduced in the 112th, 113th, and 114th Congress. The version of the bill introduced but died in the 114th Congress includes the provision to restrict State Department funding in FY2015, FY2016, and FY2017 and the following language:
Restriction on Funding Subject to Opening Determination.–Not more than 50 percent of the funds appropriated to the Department of State for fiscal year 2015 for ``Acquisition and Maintenance of Buildings Abroad” may be obligated until the Secretary of State determines and reports to Congress that the United States Embassy in Jerusalem has officially opened.
The current bill, S.11, which had been read twice and referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee includes the elimination of the waiver and similar language on funding restriction but targets a specific State Department funding — not funds for the “Acquisition and Maintenance of Buildings Abroad” but for “Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance.” The bill further includes restrictions for all security, construction, and maintenance funding worldwide for FY2018 and FY2019 except for the embassy in Tel Aviv until its relocation.
Restriction on Funding Subject to Opening Determination.–Not more than 50 percent of the funds appropriated to the Department of State for fiscal year 2017 under the heading “Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance” may be obligated until the Secretary of State determines and reports to Congress that the United States Embassy in Jerusalem has officially opened.
Just so we’re clear, three American senators including those who were screaming #BENGHAZI for the last several years have put forward a bill that would freeze half the State Department funding on embassy security until the new secretary of state reports to Congress that the US Embassy in Jerusalem has “officially opened.”
Writing for FP, Hussein Ibish, Senior Resident Scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington writes:
Jerusalem is the most sensitive issue between Israelis and Palestinians, as the outbreak of the Second Intifada and other repeated instances in which it has served as a uniquely potent flash point have illustrated. Jerusalem brings together religious, nationalistic, symbolic, and ethnic sensibilities in a singularly powerful and dangerous mix. […] Along with other members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the leading Gulf Arab states would almost certainly feel it necessary to practically demonstrate their objections to the relocation of the U.S. Embassy by finding some means of reasserting Palestinian, and even broader Christian and Muslim, claims on Jerusalem — and the most likely fallout would be a curtailment of security cooperation with Israel on matters concerning Iran’s nefarious activities in the Middle East. Adding such an additional layer of tension between Israel and the Arab states would be an enormous gift to Tehran and its regional alliance.
Since officially opening the US Embassy in Jerusalem could not happen overnight, this bill with its restrictions on embassy security funding would put all American diplomats and family members overseas at greater risks. At a time when embassy security could be most crucial, only 50 percent of appropriated State Department embassy security, construction, and maintenance funds may be obligated.
So with only half the embassy security funds obligated, what happens to our 275 posts overseas? Half gets the funds and the other half doesn’t? Reduced funding across the board? Do these good senators realized that the unfunded parts could get Americans killed? They don’t know? How could they not know? That leaves us with two troubling guesses — that they know but don’t care, or that they know this bill won’t go anywhere but its worth squeezing the juice, anyway.
Oops, is that our jaded slip showing?
We should point out that similar bills were introduced previously by Senator Heller, and they all died in committee. This bill, however, now has the support of Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). The two need no special introductions.
Posted: 1:38 am ET
On January 3, President-elect Trump announced his intent to nominate former deputy USTR Robert Lighthizer as the next U.S. Trade Representative (@USTradeRep). If confirmed, Ambassador Lighthizer would replaced Ambassador Michael Froman who was sworn in as the 17th United States Trade Representative (USTR) on June 21, 2013 as President Obama’s principal advisor, negotiator and spokesperson on international trade and investment issues. The Transition Team released the following statement:
(New York, NY) — President-elect Donald J. Trump today announced that he intends to nominate Robert Lighthizer as U.S. Trade Representative.
Ambassador Lighthizer served under President Ronald Reagan as Deputy United States Trade Representative, playing a major role in developing trade policy for the Reagan Administration and negotiating roughly two dozen bilateral international agreements on a variety of topics from steel to grain. These agreements were uniformly tough and frequently resulted in significant reductions in the shipment of unfairly traded imports into the United States.
In his new role, Ambassador Lighthizer will work in close coordination with Secretary of Commerce-designate Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro, head of the newly created White House National Trade Council, to develop and implement policies that shrink our trade deficit, expand economic growth, strengthen our manufacturing base and help stop the exodus of jobs from our shores.
“Ambassador Lighthizer is going to do an outstanding job representing the United States as we fight for good trade deals that put the American worker first,” said President-elect Donald J. Trump. “He has extensive experience striking agreements that protect some of the most important sectors of our economy, and has repeatedly fought in the private sector to prevent bad deals from hurting Americans. He will do an amazing job helping turn around the failed trade policies which have robbed so many Americans of prosperity.”
“It is a very high honor to represent our nation and to serve in President-elect Trump’s administration as the U.S. Trade Representative,” said Ambassador Robert Lighthizer. “I am fully committed to President-elect Trump’s mission to level the playing field for American workers and forge better trade policies which will benefit all Americans.”
Ambassador Lighthizer has long been a leader in U.S. trade policy, and has extensive experience in the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the private sector. Aside from his service in the Reagan Administration, he was Chief of Staff of the United States Senate Committee of Finance when Congress passed the Reagan program of tax cuts and spending reductions, and also aided in the passage of legislation which implemented the Tokyo Round of trade negotiations. He has also represented the United States at meetings of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and meetings related to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (the precursor to the World Trade Organization).
Ambassador Lighthizer headed up the international trade law practice at Skadden, Arps Slate, Meagher and Flom for over three decades. He has represented American manufacturers in many of the largest and most significant trade cases of the last 25 years, such as the steel safeguard case of the early 2000s — the last time any president granted global safeguard relief. He has worked on scores of successful cases that resulted in reducing unfair imports and helping thousands of American workers and numerous businesses.
Ambassador Lighthizer has also been an outspoken commentator on trade issues, giving speeches and writing articles for the New York Times and other publications, as well as providing testimony to key Congressional committees, the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission, and other government agencies with responsibility for trade policy. He graduated from Georgetown University and the Georgetown University Law Center.
Posted: 1:11 pm ET
Updated: 5:26 pm PT | New clips added
WaPo reported that Republicans want most Trump Cabinet confirmation votes to occur on Inauguration Day. However, Democratic senators reportedly are planning to aggressively target eight of Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees in the coming weeks and are pushing to stretch their confirmation votes into March. WaPo notes that this would be “an unprecedented break with Senate tradition.” The targeted nominees include Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State.
The third Secretary of State Timothy Pickering initially served as Acting Secretary of State from August 20, 1795 to December 10, 1795 under President George Washington. He was appointed as ad interim Secretary of State on August 20, 1795, and elevated to the position of Secretary of State on December 10, 1795. It was one of the longest stints in an acting capacity for the State Department.
Since then, several individuals have served as Acting Secretary of State ranging in tenure from a couple of days to a couple of months. Career diplomat Lawrence Eagleburger served in an acting capacity from August 23, 1992 to December 8, 1992 under President G.H.W. Bush. Michael Armacost also served in an acting capacity for six days in 1989 under President G.H. W. Bush while Walter J. Stoessel Jr served from July 5-16, 1982 under President Reagan. More recently, however, the appointment in an acting capacity spans no more than a few days. Frank G. Wisner served one day as Acting Secretary of State in January 20, 1993 under President Clinton. Before Warren Christopher was appointed 63rd Secretary of State, he was previously appointed Acting Secretary of State for five days in May 1980 under President Carter. During the transition from Bush to Obama in 2009, career diplomat William Joseph Burns served as Acting Secretary of State from January 20-21, 2009.
Secretary Kerry and his two deputies (Tony Blinken and Heather Higginbottom) are all political appointees who are expected to depart their posts by January 20. Of the six under secretary positions, two have incumbent political appointees (Sarah Sewall, Catherine A. Novelli) who are also expected to step down on or before Inauguration Day, two have acting incumbents who are career diplomats (Thomas Countryman, D. Bruce Wharton) and the remaining two are career diplomats, the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. and the Under Secretary for Management, Patrick F. Kennedy.
We’ve asked the State Department who will be designated as Acting Secretary of State in the event that Mr. Tillerson does not get confirmation immediately after inauguration day. The State Department directed us to Executive Order 13251 of December 28, 2001 which designates the order of succession for the agency. Based on this E.O., if the Senate drags the confirmation of Mr. Tillerson for months, the State Department will have the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. as Acting Secretary of State until such time when the Senate can confirm the 69th Secretary of State. In the event that Ambassador Shannon is not able to, the next in line is the Under Secretary for Management, Patrick F. Kennedy.
Sec. 2. Order of Succession.
(a) Deputy Secretary of State;
(b) Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources;
(c) Under Secretary of State designated for political affairs pursuant to section 2651a(b) of title 22, United States Code; (Shannon)
(d) Under Secretary of State designated for management affairs pursuant to section 2651a(b) of title 22, United States Code; (Kennedy)
(e) The remaining Under Secretaries of State, in the order in which they shall have taken the oath of office as such;
(Thomas Countryman, D. Bruce Wharton)
(f) Assistant Secretaries of State designated for regional bureaus pursuant to section 2651a(c) of title 22, United States Code, in the order in which they shall have taken the oath of office as such
Executive Order 13251 rules out the appointment of anyone who are in an acting capacity saying that “No individual who has not been appointed by the President by and with the consent of the Senate shall act as Secretary pursuant to this order.” It also says that “Notwithstanding the provisions of this order, the President retains discretion, to the extent permitted by the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, 5 U.S.C. 3345 et seq., to depart from this order in designating an acting Secretary.”
Two clips to read on Rex Tillerson, one concerning his tax returns, and another from an individual who served on a jury duty with him in Texas.
Posted: 5:34 pm PT
The following are civilian nominations submitted by the President to the Senate for confirmation during the current 114th Congress and have not made it out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) when the Senate adjourned on December 10, 2016. Senate rules provide that “nominations neither confirmed nor rejected during the session at which they are made shall not be acted upon at any succeeding session without being again made to the Senate by the President…” These nominations have sometimes been returned to the President at the end of the first session and are always returned to the President at the end of the Congress.
The Senate will convene at noon on January 3, 2017, for the 115th Congress. We expect that the career nominations in the Foreign Service lists will be resubmitted in January. All other nominations are dead at this point; the incoming Trump Administration will make its own nominations for ambassadorships, as well as the top ranks at State, USAID, BBG and related posts.
2016-09-28 PN1802 Department of State | Jeffrey DeLaurentis, 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 Cuba.
2016-09-22 PN1763 Department of State | Tulinabo Salama Mushingi, of Virginia, 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 Senegal, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Guinea-Bissau.
2016-09-19 PN1758 Department of State | Justin H. Siberell, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Coordinator for Counterterrorism, with the rank and status of Ambassador at Large.
2016-09-19 PN1757 Department of State | Tina S. Kaidanow, of Maryland, a career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Political-Military Affairs).
2015-07-08 PN628 Department of State | Mari Carmen Aponte, of the District of Columbia, to be Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the Organization of American States, with the rank of Ambassador.
2015-01-08 PN48 Department of State | Jennifer Ann Haverkamp, of Indiana, to be Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
2016-11-15 PN1810 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jim Nelson Barnhart, Jr., and ending Anne N. Williams, which 20 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on November 15, 2016.
2016-11-15 PN1809 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jeanne F. Bailey, and ending Robert Henry Hanson, which 9 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on November 15, 2016.
2016-11-15 PN1807 Foreign Service | Nomination for Alexander Dickie IV, which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on November 15, 2016.
2016-11-15 PN1806 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning David Charles Miller, and ending Scott S. Sindelar, which 2 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on November 15, 2016.
2016-09-06 PN1704-1 Foreign Service | Nomination for Leslie L. Johnson, which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on September 6, 2016.
2016-07-13 PN1643-1 Foreign Service | Nomination for Edward Peay, which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 13, 2016.
2016-07-13 PN1642-1 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Michael Ashkouri, and ending Ethan N. Takahashi, which 4 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 13, 2016.
2015-06-10 PN573-6 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jeffries Blunt de Graffenried, Jr., and ending Debbie Patrice Jackson, which 2 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 10, 2015.
2015-02-26 PN230-3 Foreign Service | Nomination for David Elliott Horton III, which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on February 26, 2015.
2015-01-13 PN72-8 Foreign Service | Nomination for Daniel Menco Hirsch, which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on January 13, 2015.
2015-01-13 PN71-2 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning David J. Barth, and ending R. Douglass Arbuckle, which 2 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on January 13, 2015.
2016-11-29 PN1918 Broadcasting Board of Governors | Richard Stengel, of the District of Columbia, to be Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
2016-11-29 PN1917 Broadcasting Board of Governors | Richard Stengel, of the District of Columbia, to be a Member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors for a term expiring August 13, 2017.
2016-09-13 PN1751 United Nations | Cynthia Ryan, of the District of Columbia, to be an Alternate Representative of the United States of America to the Seventy-first Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
2016-09-13 PN1750 United Nations | Valerie Biden Owens, of Delaware, to be an Alternate Representative of the United States of America to the Seventy-first Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
2015-02-26 PN229 African Development Bank | Marcia Denise Occomy, of the District of Columbia, to be United States Director of the African Development Bank for a term of five years.
2015-02-26 PN228 Inter-American Development Bank | Mileydi Guilarte, of the District of Columbia, to be United States Alternate Executive Director of the Inter-American Development Bank.
Posted: 2:55 pm PT
On December 10, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Lakhdhir, Kamala Shirin (June 2016) as the next U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia. She is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, and most recently served as Executive Assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in the Department of State, a position she held since 2011.
2016-12-10 PN1546 Department of State | Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir, of Connecticut, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Malaysia.
Earlier, on December 7, the Senate also confirmed the following Foreign Service lists:
2016-12-07 PN1808 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Marva Michelle Butler, and ending Adonis Mariano Matos de Mello, which 2 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on November 15, 2016.
2016-12-07 PN1907 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Stephen Donald Mull, and ending Victoria Jane Nuland, which 2 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on November 29, 2016.
2016-12-07 PN1908 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Robert L. Adams, and ending Laura Ann Griesmer, which 181 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on November 29, 2016.
2016-12-07 PN1909 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Robert Stephen Beecroft, and ending Marie L. Yovanovitch, which 5 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on November 29, 2016.
2016-12-07 PN1910 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Tristan J. Allen, and ending William F. Zeman, which 42 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on November 29, 2016.
2016-12-07 PN1911 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Anthony Abba, and ending Michael David Zgoda, which 180 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on November 29, 2016.
Posted: 11:02 am PT
On December 13, President-elect Trump announced his intent to nominate Rex Tillerson, the Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, to serve as Secretary of State. Below is the Trump Transition statement:
Among the most accomplished business leaders and international dealmakers in the world, Mr. Tillerson has spent his career protecting the jobs of his employees, who number more than 70,000. Guiding operations around the world that include more than 200 offices, Mr. Tillerson knows how to manage a global organization and successfully navigate the complex architecture of world affairs and diverse foreign leaders. As Secretary of State, he will be a forceful and clear-eyed advocate for America’s vital national interests, and help reverse years of misguided foreign policies and actions that have weakened America’s security and standing in the world. The American people will once again have a world-class leader working on their behalf, enhancing the prospects for peace and prosperity among nations.
“Rex Tillerson’s career is the embodiment of the American dream. Through hard work, dedication and smart deal making, Rex rose through the ranks to become CEO of ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest and most respected companies,” said President-elect Donald J. Trump. “His tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice for Secretary of State. He will promote regional stability and focus on the core national security interests of the United States. Rex knows how to manage a global enterprise, which is crucial to running a successful State Department, and his relationships with leaders all over the world are second to none. I can think of no one more prepared, and no one more dedicated, to serve as Secretary of State at this critical time in our history.”
“I am honored by President-elect Trump’s nomination and share his vision for restoring the credibility of the United States’ foreign relations and advancing our country’s national security,” said Mr. Tillerson. “We must focus on strengthening our alliances, pursuing shared national interests and enhancing the strength, security and sovereignty of the United States.”
Rex Tillerson is a native Texan who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He began his career at Exxon Company, U.S.A. in 1975 as a production engineer.
After years of hard work and dedication to his company, Rex then became general manager of Exxon Company, U.S.A.’s central production division, responsible for oil and gas production operations throughout a large portion of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas.
In 1992, Mr. Tillerson was named production advisor to Exxon Corporation. Three years later he was named president of Exxon Yemen Inc. and Esso Exploration and Production Khorat Inc., and in January 1998, he was promoted to vice president of Exxon Ventures (CIS) Inc. and president of Exxon Neftegas Limited. In those roles, he was responsible for Exxon’s holdings in Russia and the Caspian Sea as well as the Sakhalin I consortium operations offshore Sakhalin Island, Russia.
In December 1999, he became executive vice president of Exxon Mobil Development Company. Mr. Tillerson was then named senior vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation in August 2001, and was elected president of the corporation and member of the board of directors on March 1, 2004. Nearly two years after he was elected, Mr. Tillerson was named as chairman and CEO of the board on January 1, 2006.
Mr. Tillerson is not only a stalwart in his professional life, but also in the community. He is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and a trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is the vice chairman of the Ford’s Theatre Society and a recipient of the Lincoln Medal; immediate past national president of the Boy Scouts of America, a Distinguished Eagle Scout, and a former director of the United Negro College Fund. He was recognized as a distinguished alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin in 2006, and in 2013, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.
The Senate Foreign Relation Committee is a GOP 10/Dem 9 split, the full Senate is a 52 GOP/48 Dem split. A senator can put a hold on a nomination. If two GOP Senators flip, VP Pence can cast the deciding vote and still confirm the nominee. Since a simple majority is all that’s needed, three GOP Senators could also flip and sink this nomination. A nomination can also be killed in committee, but that does not look likely here. The SFRC Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN)who was on Trump’s short-list for Secretary of State has said that Tillerson is “a very impressive individual.” After the selection was announced, Senator Corker tweeted, “I congratulate Mr. Tillerson on his nomination and look forward to meeting with him and chairing his confirmation hearing.” We suspect that the confirmation hearing would occur the day after the Trump inauguration.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who sits in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and who says “I am a no on John Bolton…” reportedly told a radio show that he is “reserving judgment” on the Tillerson nomination. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) who also sits in the SFRC tweeted “The fact that Condi Rice, James Baker and Bob Gates are recommending Tillerson carries considerable weight. I look forward to the hearings.” Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), also an SFRC member said, “While Rex Tillerson is a respected businessman, I have serious concerns about his nomination.” He released a statement here: http://bit.ly/2hAiUyB .
There are “concerns” but no hard “no” at this time. It doesn’t hurt that former Secretary of State Condi Rice, and former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates of RiceHadleyGates have great things to say about the nominee.
According to the Constitution Center, there were five presidential cabinet nominations that were rejected by the Senate. The last two occurred within the last sixty years — one in 1959 for the commerce secretary nomination and the second one in 1989 for the defense secretary nomination:
In 1959, President Dwight Eisenhower nominated Admiral Lewis Strauss as commerce secretary. The Democrats controlled more than 60 Senate seats and Strauss lost in a contentious nomination process by just four votes.
The fight between the Senate and its former member, John Tower, in 1989 was historic in many ways. Tower had headed the Senate Armed Services Committee until he retired in 1985. President Bush had nominated Tower as defense secretary.
The public debate over Tower’s nomination included a lot of mudslinging, and Tower lost the vote along party lines in the Democrat-controlled Senate. He was the only former Senate member rejected for a cabinet position by the Senate in its history. Dick Cheney was later approved in Tower’s place.
For Senators contemplating sinking the Tillerson nomination, the next question to ask might be, “then what?” Could Trump’s next move after a Tillerson rejection be the nomination of John Bolton as Secretary of State? That is totally possible. And after sinking one cabinet nomination, it is conceivable that a GOP Senate would not want another contentious confirmation. Rejecting the Tillerson nomination would almost assure the confirmation of John Bolton or whoever Trump puts forward in response.
The Financial Times’ Ed Crooks said that conventional wisdom has tagged Rex #Tillerson as “pro-Russia” but that it is probably more accurate to say he’s been pro-Exxon. Well, his responsibilities were to the Exxon shareholders. Tillerson was once asked by Charlie Rose: “… whether it’s Alaska or offshore or wherever it might be, is your philosophy “drill, baby, drill”? Here is Tillerson’s response talking about opportunities and risks:
No, my philosophy is to make money. And so if I can drill, and make money, then that’s what I want to do. But it really is for us it’s about making quality investments for our shareholders. And it’s not a quality investment if you cannot manage the risk around it. And so part of that decision to undertake whether it’s a drilling program or an investment program in some other country, we have to have a very good understanding of what risk are we dealing with, how are we going to manage those. Because you may have a fabulous opportunity but if you manage the risk poorly, you’ve cost yourself not only that opportunity but you’ve probably cost yourself a lot of others.
The bigger question probably is what happens to Tillerson’s huge financial interest in Exxon if he gets confirmed as Secretary of State. This is something the Senators should be interested in. Of course, they were also interested with conflict of interest or the appearance of it related to the Clinton Foundation leading to then Senator Clinton’s confirmation in 2009 and they voted 94-2.