SFRC Clears Blinken Nomination, Full Senate Vote on Tuesday, Jan 26

In a 15-3 vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared the nomination of Tony Blinken on January 25 to be the next secretary of state. It looks like Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Rand Paul (R-KY) voted no on this nomination. Insurrectionist Senator Ted Cruz of Texas also voted no.
The full Senate is expected to vote on the Blinken nomination mid-day tomorrow, January 26. Foggy Bottom may see the 71st Secretary of State in Foggy Bottom by afternoon.

Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Sesame Street’s “Grover” to talk about refugees at the United Nations in New York City, New York on September 19, 2016. [State Department Photo/Public Domain]


 

 

Confirmation Hearing: Secretary of State Nominee Antony Blinken (Video/Text)

 

On January 19, Antony Blinken, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to be the 71st Secretary of State appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his confirmation hearing.

Excerpt from his prepared statement (PDF):

If confirmed, three priorities will guide my time as Secretary. 

First, I will work with you to reinvigorate the Department by investing in its greatest asset: the foreign service officers, civil servants, and locally employed staff who animate American diplomacy around the world.

I know from firsthand experience their passion, energy, and courage. Often far from home and away from loved ones, sometimes in dangerous conditions exacerbated by the global pandemic – they deserve our full support. If I am confirmed as Secretary, they will have it.

I am committed to advancing our security and prosperity by building a diplomatic corps that fully represents America in all its talent and diversity. Recruiting, retaining, and promoting officers with the skills to contend with 21st Century challenges and who look like the country we represent. Sparing no effort to ensure their safety and well-being. Demanding accountability – starting with the Secretary – for building a more diverse, inclusive and non-partisan workplace.

Second, working across government and with partners around the world, we will revitalize American diplomacy to take on the most pressing challenges of our time.

We’ll show up again, day-in, day-out whenever and wherever the safety and well-being of Americans is at stake. We’ll engage the world not as it was, but as it is. A world of rising nationalism, receding democracy, growing rivalry with China, Russia, and other authoritarian states, mounting threats to a stable and open international system, and a technological revolution that is reshaping every aspect of our lives, especially in cyberspace.

For all that has changed, some things remain constant.

American leadership still matters.

The reality is that the world doesn’t organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we don’t lead, then one of two things happen: either some other country tries to take our place, but probably not in a way that advances our interests or values. Or no one does, and then you get chaos. Either way, that does not serve the American people

Humility and confidence should be the flip sides of America’s leadership coin.

Humility because we have a great deal of work to do at home to enhance our standing abroad. And humility because most of the world’s problems are not about us, even as they affect us. Not one of the big challenges we face can be met by one country acting alone – even one as powerful as the U.S.

But we’ll also act with confidence that America at its best still has a greater ability than any country on earth to mobilize others for the greater good.

Guided by those principles, we can overcome the COVID crisis – the greatest shared challenge since World War II.

We can outcompete China – and remind the world that a government of the people, by the people, can deliver for its people.

We can take on the existential threat posed by climate change.

We can revitalize our core alliances – force multipliers of our influence around the world. Together, we are far better positioned to counter threats posed by Russia, Iran, and North Korea and to stand up for democracy and human rights.

And in everything we do around the world, we can and we must ensure that our foreign policy delivers for American working families here at home.

Let me conclude with a word about this institution, whose resilience and determination was on full display in the aftermath of senseless and searing violence in these halls. Both the President-elect and I believe we must restore Congress’s traditional role as a partner in our foreign policy making.

In recent years, across administrations of both parties, Congress’s voice in foreign policy has been diluted and diminished.

That doesn’t make the executive branch stronger – it makes our country weaker.

President-elect Biden believes – and I share his conviction – that no foreign policy can be sustained without the informed consent of the American people. You are the representatives of the American people. You provide that advice and consent. We can only tackle the most urgent problems our country faces if we work together, and I am dedicated to doing that.

If confirmed, I will work as a partner to each of you on behalf of all Americans.

 


 

 

US Ambassador to Brazil Todd Chapman on Reported “Favor” to Help Trump Reelection

 

Excerpt from HFAC letter to Ambassador Todd Chapman, a career diplomat who has been COM at the US Embassy in Brazil since March 2020. He was previously Ambassador to Ecuador from 2016 – 2019:

“We are extremely alarmed by a report in Brazilian newspaper O Globo yesterday which stated that while lobbying your counterparts on reducing ethanol tariffs, you raised “the importance for the Bolsonaro government of maintaining Donald Trump as U.S. President.” The article further stated, “Iowa is the largest ethanol producer in the United States…and could be a key player in Trump’s election. Hence the importance – according to Chapman – for the Bolsonaro government to do the U.S. a favor.”

These statements are completely inappropriate for a U.S. ambassador to make, and if true, would be a potential violation of the Hatch Act of 1939. We ask that you respond in writing by 5:00 p.m. EST on August 4th as to whether the allegations in the aforementioned article (attached to this correspondence) are true. Specifically, please provide us with a complete description of all conversations that you have had with Brazilian government officials in the executive and legislative branches with regard to ethanol tariffs and the U.S. presidential election. If you deny these allegations, please provide complete and unredacted copies of any and all documents referring or related to any discussions you have had with Brazilian government officials in the executive and legislative branches with regard to ethanol tariffs, to reassure Congress and the American people that our Ambassador to Brazil is truly representing the interests of the United States and not the narrow, political interests of President Trump.

The Des Moines Register printed a denial from the State Department:
“Allegations suggesting that Ambassador Chapman has asked Brazilians to support a specific U.S. candidate are false,” said a department spokesperson. “The United States has long been focused on reducing tariff barriers and will continue to do so.”
Allegations suggesting that the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine …. oh, wait, that was different, silly.
But as Pompeo’s new motto insistently says dear ones, “distrust and verify”.
So what motivated the Brazilians for making this public? More than one source reported this on Brazilian media. Is Foggy Bottom saying they’re making this all up? To what end?
Look, Ambassador Chapman is a Senate confirmed career diplomat. As such, he has an obligation to respond to questions that U.S. senators may have on this issue.  But the  SFRC under GOP Senator Jim Risch doesn’t seem at all interested in asking further questions. No surprise there. The HFAC is asking questions, however, and we hope the ambassador answer those questions.
For folks in the FOIA business, if/if there were instructions related to this, there would have to be a paper trail from the State Department’s WHA bureau, the home bureau of U.S. Mission Brazil.  Ambassadors typically get their marching orders from their home bureau.

WH Announces Nomination of Retired Col. Douglas Macgregor to be U.S. Ambassador to Germany

 

On July 27, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate retired US Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Germany. The WH released the following brief bio:
Colonel Douglas Macgregor, United States Army (Retired), of Pennsylvania, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Germany.
Colonel Douglas Macgregor is a decorated combat veteran, author, and a consultant. Colonel Macgregor is widely recognized as an expert on force design and grand strategy.  He is a frequent radio and television commentator on national security affairs and his writings on military affairs have been influential in the transformation of United States ground forces, NATO, and the Israeli Defense Force.
During his military career, Colonel Macgregor worked in support of Ambassador Holbrooke’s team during the Proximity Talks in Dayton, Ohio.  Later, he worked closely with senior military and political leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany as the Chief of Strategic Planning and, subsequently, as the Director of the Joint Operations Center at Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe, during the Kosovo Air Campaign.
Colonel Macgregor earned a B.S. degree from the United States Military Academy and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Virginia.  He is the recipient of numerous awards from his military service, including the bronze star with “V” device for valor for his leadership under fire.
There are currently 75 nominations pending on the Executive Calendar; with 51 nominations pending in the SFRC.  Of the 51 nominations, 17 are currently listed for consideration during the SFRC’s business meeting on July 29, as well as seven FS lists.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens with these nominations.
Senate calendar (PDF) indicates that the Senate will be in session August 3-7; Sept 8-25,30; Oct 1-9, then 2 weeks in November after the elections, and three weeks in December with December 18 as its target date of adjournment.
Even if political appointees get confirmed next week and are able to travel to post immediately, that leaves the new appointees with barely 20 weeks in office. They won’t even have six months to adjust to their new jobs, much less their new host country.

Nominee For Peru Ambassadorship Lisa Kenna Gets a Late Thunderbolt

 

Via Politico:
Lisa Kenna, Pompeo’s executive secretary — a gatekeeper of sorts to his office — told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that she was unaware of the substance of Giuliani’s outreach at the time, but now knows it was an effort to discredit Yovanovitch. Giuliani made calls and delivered documents to Pompeo that came from Ukrainian figures viewed as corrupt by the State Department.
“At the time, I did not know what the documents were about. It’s deeply disturbing,” said Kenna, who is being vetted by the committee for the ambassadorship to Peru.
Ms. Kenna’s prepared testimony for the SFRC is available to read here.

Senator Menendez Asks WH to Withdraw Mark Burkhalter as Ambassador Pick For Norway

 

On May 15, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate J. Mark Burkhalter, of Georgia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Norway. The WH released the following brief bio:

Mr. Burkhalter is a Senior Advisor in the Public Policy and Regulation practice at Dentons U.S. LLP, and plays a significant role in Dentons’ public affairs and economic development initiatives in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Burkhalter represented the Atlanta suburbs of north Fulton County in the Georgia General Assembly for 18 years, where he focused on promoting economic development, business growth, and quality of life in the greater metropolitan Atlanta area.  He left office as the Speaker Emeritus, having served as Speaker of the House and Speaker Pro Tempore.

Parallel to his government service, Mr. Burkhalter built a successful career in real estate development.  He received his B.A. at the University of Georgia with a double major in German and Slavic Languages, and Global Studies/Political Science.  He is conversant in German.

On July 2, WaPo reports that the nominee “did not disclose his involvement in the creation of a racist flier that distorted the features of a black politician in Georgia.”
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is urging the White House to withdraw the Burkhalter nomination.
The most recently confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Oslo , Kenneth J. Braithwaite became the 77th @SECNAV last May. 

 

Related posts:

 

 

SFRC Chairman @SenatorRisch Chickens Out From Holding Oversight Hearing With Pompeo

 

Michael Pack’s Nomination to be @USAGMgov Head Hits Double Snag

 

New Arms Control Special Envoy Marshall Billingslea Now Nominated as Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security (T)

 

On May 1st, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate Marshall Billingslea to be the next Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security (T). Last month, Mr. Billingslea was appointed Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control. He was previously nominated as Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights (J) in 2018; he had a confirmation hearing in 2019 but that nomination appeared to have gone nowhere.
If the J nomination did not go anywhere in a GOP-controlled Senate, why would this nomination fare any better?
In any case, if confirmed, he would oversee the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance; the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation and the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.  
The immediate predecessor to this position is Andrea L. Thompson who was appointed in 2018 and left her position the following year (see Pompeo Announces Departure of Andrea Thompson as Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security).  With the exception of career diplomats Reginald Bartholomew (1989–1992) and Frank G. Wisner II (1992–1993), all other appointees to the “T” bureau were political appointees. Click here for the names of previous appointees.

Via WH:

Marshall Billingslea, of Virginia, to be Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security

Mr. Billingslea is the Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control at the State Department.  He has also recently served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing.

A former Managing Director at Deloitte, Mr. Billingslea has also served at the Department of Defense as Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Negotiations Policy.  He was Assistant Secretary General for Defense Investment at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, and a Senior Professional Staff Member for National Security Affairs for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Mr. Billingslea received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service, the Cross of Merit of the Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic, and the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana of Estonia, among other awards.  Mr. Billingslea earned a B.A. from Dartmouth College, and an M.A. from The Fletcher School, Tufts University.

 

Related posts:

Certificate of Demonstrated Competence: Aldona Wos, M.D (Nominee For Canada)

Via state.gov

SUBJECT:            Ambassadorial Nomination:  Certificate of Demonstrated Competence — Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4)

POST:                  Canada

CANDIDATE:     Aldona Wos, M.D.

Aldona Wos is a physician, public policy leader, and philanthropist with broad expertise in public health and global affairs. Dr. Wos currently serves as Vice Chair of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships.  Previously, Dr. Wos served as the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, managing 17,000 employees and $20 billion budget.  She was the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Estonia under President George W. Bush.  Currently, she serves on the Boards of Directors of the Council of American Ambassadors, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, and The Institute of World Politics.  Dr. Wos was also a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Council.  In addition, Dr. Wos has worked on behalf of the United Ways of Greater Greensboro and of Greater High Point for two decades.  She is the Vice President of the Louis DeJoy and Aldona Wos Family Foundation.  Dr. Wos’ diverse leadership and life experience, coupled with her deep commitment to international affairs, diplomacy, and public service, make her an excellent candidate to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Canada.

Earlier in her career, Dr. Wos worked for two decades as a physician specializing in internal medicine and pulmonary care.  She has been active as a Member of the Republican Regents, Republican National Committee.  Among her many other roles in public life, Dr. Wos currently serves on the Duke University Law School Board of Visitors and previously was on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.  She was also the founder of the Committee for the Preservation of the artwork of Jan Komski, Auschwitz Eyewitness.

Dr. Wos attended Marquette University and then the Warsaw Medical Academy from which she received her Doctor of Medicine degree.  She is the recipient of numerous awards, including one from the Polish Government and several from the Government of Estonia marking her distinguished service there as U.S. Ambassador.

 

Wos, Aldona, M.D. – Canada – March 2020