SDNY Alleges That Political Donors Target a Career U.S. Ambassador For Removal With Sludge People Assist

 

It is no longer news when political donors end up with ambassadorships. We just did not know until today that political donors apparently are now also able to affect the removal or the recall of a career ambassador according to the indictment (see p.8) from the Southern District of New York. The SDNY alleged that these political donors sought assistance from “Congressman-1” in causing the U.S. Government to remove or recall the then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine (that would be Marie Yovanovitch). The effort was conducted in part at the request of Ukrainian officials.
Congressman-1 has not been indicted nor identified in the indictment. SDNY said that investigations are ongoing.
The recall of Ambassador Yovanovich in May 2019 followed a persistent campaign for her removal among conservative media outlets in the United States. The State Department reportedly told RFE/RL  on May 6,  that Ambassador Yovanovitch “is concluding her 3-year diplomatic assignment in Kyiv in 2019 as planned.” And that “her confirmed departure date in May aligns with the presidential transition in Ukraine,” which elected a new president in April.
We now know that none of that is true. What other truth-sounding stuff are they telling us?
Those who are quick to point out that she was appointed United States Ambassador to Ukraine by President Obama, should know that Ambassador Yovanovitch was first appointed United States Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan by President George W. Bush.  She was also appointed United States Ambassador to Armenia by President George W. Bush, but her tenure in Yerevan, as a career diplomat, spanned the Bush Administration and the  Obama Administration (2008-2011). We’ve seen folks insists on calling her an Obama “holdover,” perhaps they’ll think otherwise if they realize that she was a Bush “holdover” before she became an Obama “holdover. Career people do tend to serve from one administration to the next.
We expect that we’ll hear more about this case in the days ahead. What is clear to us right now is if this could happen to Ambassador Yovanovitch who has over three decades of dedicated service, this could happen to anyone in the U.S. diplomatic service.
Also, Ambassador P. Michael McKinley, Senior Advisor to Pompeo, Quits.
Read the full SDNY Indictment of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman here (PDF).

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WSJ: Amb. Yovanovitch’s Removal, a Priority For Trump; Pompeo Supported the Move #championofdiplomacy

What do you get after 33 years of dedicated service to your country?

 

Via state.gov:

Marie L. Yovanovitch, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as Dean of the School of Language Studies at the Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute, a position she has held since 2014. Ms. Yovanovitch has extensive leadership and management experience, having previously served twice as an ambassador. She also has broad and deep expertise, gained from numerous assignments working on the region, including as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) and Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR), and as DCM in Ukraine. This range of experience makes her well qualified to return to Embassy Kyiv as Ambassador.

Previously, Ms. Yovanovitch was Deputy Commandant at the Eisenhower School at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. (2013-2014), and served as EUR PDAS and DAS (2011-2013). Prior to that, she served as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia (2008-2011) and U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan (2005-2008). She also served as Senior Advisor and Executive Assistant in the Office of the Under Secretary for Political Affairs (2004-2005), and Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Kyiv (2001-2004). Ms. Yovanovitch also served as Deputy Director of EUR’s Russia Desk (1998-2000), Political-Military Officer at U.S. Embassy Ottawa, Canada (1996-1998), and Political Officer at U.S. Embassy Moscow, Russia (1993-1996). After joining the Foreign Service in 1986, Ms. Yovanovitch also served in Somalia, the United Kingdom, the Department’s Operations Center, and in EUR’s Regional Political Military Office.

Ms. Yovanovitch earned a B.A. from Princeton University and a M.S. in Strategic Studies from the National War College. She has won numerous Department of State performance awards. Her languages are Russian and some French.

Statements of Support For Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch

 

Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was previously scheduled to appear for a deposition in Congress on Wednesday, October 2. Reports indicate that she is now scheduled to appear before the oversight body on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019.
In the meantime, the American Academy of Diplomacy has issued a joint statement signed by AAD Chairman Thomas R. Pickering  and AAD President Ronald E. Neumann supporting Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch Must Be Supported

Washington, D.C. – The American Academy of Diplomacy calls on the Administration to make clear that it will not act against career diplomat Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch for doing her duty and working to support long established US policies and values. The Administration removed Ambassador Yovanovitch from her post in Ukraine prematurely. Now, we note with great concern the statement by President Donald Trump in the recently released memorandum of conversation with Ukraine’s president, in which the President said of Ambassador Yovanovitch, “Well, she’s going to go through some things.” The threatening tone of this statement is deeply troubling. It suggests actions outside of and contrary to the procedures and standards of a professional service whose officers, like their military counterparts, take an oath to uphold the Constitution. Whatever views the Administration has of Ambassador Yovanovitch’s performance, we call on the Administration to make clear that retaliation for political reasons will not be tolerated.

The Academy is a non-partisan organization of former senior U.S. diplomats, career and political appointees, who have served over decades. Our mission is strengthening American diplomacy. In our careers, we have worked around the world and under Republican and Democratic administrations alike and frequently acted publicly and privately against foreign corruption. Speaking out against foreign corruption is consistent also with the Foreign Anti-Corruption Act that binds U.S. business.

The American Foreign Service Association, the “voice of the Foreign Service” has also issued a statement on The Importance of a Non-Partisan Career Foreign Service but made no specific mention of Ambassador Yovanovitch’s case.
On October 1, NBC News reports that more than 50 former female U.S. ambassadors are calling on President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a letter to protect foreign service officers from political retaliation in the wake of the ousting of the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.  The signatories of the letter are members of an organization of current and former ambassadors, Women Ambassadors Serving America.
The report notes that “Only one current U.S. ambassador signed the letter: Catherine Ebert-Gray, a career foreign service officers who serves as the U.S. envoy to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Her signature comes with a notable caveat; She adds that “The views expressed are my own and not necessarily those of the U.S. government. Signing a public letter critical of the Trump administration could put current ambassadors at professional risk, which likely explains why Ebert-Gray is the only one to sign the letter.”

 

 

Trump’s Special Representative For Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker Steps Down

 

Shortly after news broke last Friday of House Committees issuing subpoenas for State Department documents on Ukraine and a scheduled depositions for five state Department officials, news also broke on the resignation of the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker.  Ambassador Volker was a career diplomat from 1988-2009. It appears he left the Foreign Service  in 2009 following his stint as U.S. Ambassador to NATO.
Kurt Douglas Volker was born on December 27, 1964 (age 54) in Pennsylvania. His NNDB profile notes that he was an analyst for the CIA from 1986-88. He joined the State Department in 1988. (By the way, in June this year, he married Voice of America journalist and Georgia native Iya Meurmishvili). 

August 11, 1988: His name appears on congress.gov (PN1205 — 100th Congress (1987-1988) on his appointment to be “to be Consular Officers and/or Secretaries in the Diplomatic Service of the United States of America, as indicated: Consular Officers and Secretaries in the Diplomatic Service of the United States of America” on August 11, 1988.

1988-1994: ???.

On June 28, 1991: He was “Confirmed by the Senate by Unanimous Consent” for his appointment “as Foreign Service Officers of Class Four, Consular Officers and Secretaries in the Diplomatic Service of the United States of America (PN433 — 102nd Congress (1991-1992).

His archived state.gov biography did not indicate where he served his first posts only that “his prior Foreign Service assignments include Budapest, London, and several positions in the U.S. Department of State.” His Wikipedia bio includes service in Budapest, London and Brussels and places these assignment in the 1994–1997 bracket. This could mean a one 2-year assignment at one post, and then two other single year assignments at two posts. Junior officers typically serve 2-year assignments for their first two tours.

1994-1997: Budapest, London, Brussels, State Department ???

1997-1998: He was a State Department Legislative Fellow in the U.S. Senate from 1997-1998, working on foreign policy matters for Senator John McCain

1998-1999: He was First Secretary at the U.S. Mission to NATO responsible for the Membership Action Plan and Partnership for Peace issues according to his USNATO bio.

1999-2001: He was Deputy Director of the Private Office of then-NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson.

2001-2005?:  He was Acting Senior Director for European and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council (NSC); He served at the NSC for four years, working as Director for NATO and West Europe according to his USNATO bio. If these are the correct years of his tenure at the NSC, it would have overlapped with Condi Rice’s tenure as National Security Advisor prior to her appointment as Secretary of State.

July 2005-June 2008: He was appointed Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs (State/EUR).

January 10, 2008: President George W. Bush announced his intent to nominate Volker  as Permanent Representative to USNATO.

April 29, 2008: Volker was  confirmed by the Senate by Voice Vote to be USNATO Permanent Representative (PN1179 — Kurt Douglas Volker — Department of State 110th Congress (2007-2008):

“Kurt Douglas Volker, of Pennsylvania, a Career Foreign Service Officer of Class One, to be United States Permanent Representative on the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary”

October 2, 2008: Volker was confirmed by the Senate by Voice Vote for “promotion into the Senior Foreign Service, as indicated: Career Members of the Senior Foreign Service of the United States of America, Class of Counselor” (PN2000 — 110th Congress (2007-2008). 

May 2, 2008-May 15, 2009: History.state.gov indicates that Ambassador Volker served as U.S. Permanent Representative on the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (USNATO) from May 2, 2008 – May 15, 2009. Typical tours for career appointees is three years.

2009? Resignation/Retirement from the U.S. Foreign Service? His Wikipedia entry only says that “Volker went into the private sector in 2009 …” We have not been able to find any entry for him on  congress.gov after 2008.

December 18, 2009: Ambassador Volker was appointed as Independent Director of the Wall Street Fund, Inc.

May 24, 2012: He was named Executive Director of Arizona State University’s McCain Institute for International Leadership.

July 7, 2017: Tillerson Appointed Volker as Special Representative For Ukraine Negotiations . At the time of his appointment, Volker had been out of the State Department for several years. We don’t know how Tillerson picked him as special rep for Ukraine. But they had one shared connection — with the former secretary of state. CNN previously reported that Condi Rice was one of the Republican foreign policy veterans who “played a crucial role in convincing Trump’s team to select Tillerson to become America’s top diplomat.” Did Rice recommend Volker to Tillerson?

September 27, 2019: Volker resigned from post as Special Representative

 

Confirmations: Godfrey, Mustafa, Carwile, McKee , Marks, Cella, Plus 6 Foreign Service Lists

 

 

2019-09-26 PN888 SERBIA | Anthony F. Godfrey, 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 Republic of Serbia.
2019-09-26 PN890 BULGARIA | Herro Mustafa, of California, 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 Bulgaria.
2019-09-26 PN771 LATVIA | John Leslie Carwile, of Maryland, 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 Latvia.
2019-09-26 PN796 PAPUA NEW GUINEA, SOLOMON ISLANDS, VANUATU | Erin Elizabeth McKee, of California, 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 Independent State of Papua New Guinea, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Solomon Islands and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Vanuatu.
2019-09-26 PN131 SOUTH AFRICA | Lana J. Marks, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of South Africa.
2019-09-24 PN114 FIJI, KIRIBATI, NAURU, TONGA, TUVALU | Joseph Cella, of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Fiji, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Nauru, the Kingdom of Tonga, and Tuvalu.
FS LISTS (Click on PN number to see the names)
2019-09-26 PN786 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Melissa McInnis, and ending Marixell Garcia, which 12 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN787-2 Foreign Service | Nomination for Courtney L. Lacroix, which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN1001 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning George Habib Abi-Nader, and ending Alexis Lyn Zintak, which 204 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 25, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN1002 Foreign Service | Nomination for Cynthia K. Duerr, which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 25, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN1003 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jessica Abenstein, and ending David Waldron, which 6 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 25, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN1004 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Kendra Michelle Arbaiza-Sundal, and ending Jacqueline Leann Ward, which 95 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 25, 2019.

Ambassador Philip Goldberg Presents His Credentials in Bogota

 

Venezuela Affairs Unit (VAU) With CDA James Story Opens at US Embassy Bogota

 

The State Department recently announced the opening of its Venezuela Affairs Unit (VAU) under the leadership of Charge d’Affaires James Story at the US Embassy in Bogota, Colombia:

The VAU is the interim diplomatic office of the U.S. Government to Venezuela, located at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota‎, Colombia, and has been established with bipartisan support from the U.S. Congress.  The VAU is continuing the U.S. mission to the legitimate Government of Venezuela and to the Venezuelan people.  The VAU will continue to work for the restoration of democracy and the constitutional order in that country, and the security and well-being of the Venezuelan people.

The VAU interacts with the government of interim president Juan Guaido, the democratically elected National Assembly, Venezuelan civil society, and the people of Venezuela.  The United States welcomes the support of the Government of Colombia, which is a further demonstration of its steadfast commitment to democracy and peace in the region.

The United States stands with interim President Juan Guaido, the National Assembly, and the people of Venezuela as they seek to regain their democracy.

Media inquiries about the VAU should be sent to VAUMediaUnit@state.gov.

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Ex-FSO Bethany Milton’s NYT Op-Ed on Why She Left the State Department

 

Below is the latest public resignation from the U.S. Foreign Service by Bethany Milton who joined the FS in 2008. She most recently served as Consular Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda.

Via NYT:

When President Trump allowed a crowd to chant “Send her back!” about a sitting member of Congress — espousing an ideology in which naturalized American citizens, at least those who don’t fit a certain profile, are held to different and dangerous standards — he wasn’t thinking about me. He’s rarely thinking about me, the white American-born daughter of two American-born citizens.

But he is often thinking and talking about at least some of the tens of thousands of people I’ve helped immigrate to the United States — legally and permissibly — over my 11 years as a consular officer in the Foreign Service. From 2014 to 2016, I oversaw immigrant visa processing at the U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai, India. Every day, my team and I saw dozens of families destined to move to the United States as green card holders: older parents going to spend their final years surrounded by grandchildren, spouses matched up through online matrimonial sites, parents with kids in tow who had been waiting patiently since the early 1990s for their chance to join a sibling.

I also oversaw immigrant visa operations in Kigali, Rwanda, from 2018 to 2019, helping Rwandans and Congolese reunite with family members in the United States. Their stories often had a darker tone: marriages brokered in refugee camps, siblings separated by war, children born of rape. But the one thing that united almost every visa applicant I ever saw was the belief that life was going to be better in America. What a rude surprise, then, for them to face elected national leadership that targets them in such gruesome ways.

When a diplomat joins the State Department, she sits through two presentations toward the end of her weekslong orientation class. One is an afternoon session about the State Department’s storied dissent channel, which lets employees speak out internally about foreign policy decisions free from the fear of retaliation. How to use it, when to use it, what it means. The other is a much shorter presentation, one that lasts all of 15 seconds: “The day you can no longer publicly support your administration’s policies is the day you need to resign.”

 

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Pompeo: Heat-Seeking Missile Comment Offensive, Also Great to Lead Org of “70,000-Plus Great Americans”

Secretary Pompeo was in New York for a UN gig and had a couple of interviews with transcripts now posted on state.gov.  Asked about the New Yorker profile with a former ambassador’s quip heard around the world, the secretary told CBS’s Gayle King, “I find that language offensive and I find the statement ludicrous.
Also Secretary Pompeo basically touting 70,000-plus great Americans working for him (he doesn’t).
In the interview, Pompeo actually said, “It’s a great opportunity to get to lead this organization of 70,000-plus great Americans who are out there all across the world …”
He might like to think that for his “One Team, One Mission” motto but that’s not accurate.
Can somebody please tell the Secretary that he does not/does not have 70,000 plus Americans working for him? He obviously doesn’t know that 50,839 of those “70,000-plus great Americans” are Locally Employed Staff (also known as LES) who are Foreign Service Nationals (FSN) and Personal Service Agreements (PSA) working hard in over 270 posts overseas in support U.S. interests (see HR PDF). It is by far, the largest largest employee group within the State Department which, as FSN Eddy Olislaeger points out as recently as 2018, has “no organization to represent them, to safeguard their interests, and to promote excellence and professionalism among their ranks.”

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo delivers remarks on “One Team, One Mission: Introducing our Ethos” to State Department employees at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on April 26, 2019. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]

Excerpt below via state.gov:

QUESTION:  You were the cover story in The New Yorker, 21 pages devoted to you, called, “Secretary of Trump.”  And it’s interesting because it takes the evolution of you, Mike Pompeo, who grew up in Orange County, who – I was surprised to see you like AC/DC.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  My younger days.

QUESTION:  I did not see that coming.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I still like them today.

QUESTION:  They call you – you’ve been called an old-fashioned American.  Your dogs, golden retrievers, are named after generals.  General —

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Sherman and Patton are the last two.

QUESTION:  Sherman and Patton.  But the point I’m making is that people that know you and love you and support you say, “Look, this is a guy who loves his country.”  And I think people are surprised to see the evolution of where you were in the beginning in 2016 when you supported Marco Rubio – and at one point said it’s time to turn the lights down on the circus to the Donald Trump campaign – to now being very closely aligned with Donald Trump.  Somebody said, “He actually gets Donald Trump.”  What is it that you get about Donald Trump that others don’t?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  He cares deeply about America.  And in the world that I’ve worked – I worked for him first as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, now as the Secretary of State.  He wants to see the American people secure, he wants to grow our economy, he wants better lives for them.  I see that.  I’ve had lots of chances to engage with him.

QUESTION:  But you see it now though.  In the beginning you said authoritarian, trying to turn the – time to turn the lights out in the circus.  I’m curious because they say about you, you are very patriotic, you get this country.  The President is not always accused of telling the truth.  He’s very loose with his tweets.  It seems to be opposite of how you run your life.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah, I’ve enjoyed the privilege of working for President Trump.  No, the comments from back in 2016 – it was a tough political campaign, and when I’m on your team, I am all in, as I was.  And when my candidate left, I was all in for President Trump then as well, and I’m in for America today.

QUESTION:  You have a lot of support, Mr. Secretary.  They say that State Department morale is better under your watch.  People feel good about what they do, but you’ve got critics.  One former American ambassador who shall not be named – this is delicate – describes you like a heat-seeking missile for Trump’s bottom, except he used the other word.  When you hear stuff like that to compare how you are with this President, what do you think?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I find that language offensive and I find the statement ludicrous.  I work hard.  I work hard for the President of the United States, who was constitutionally elected.  He is my leader.  My task is to share with him the best information.  If we disagree, my duty is to go share with him our disagreements.  I do that with great frequency.  But when he makes a decision and it’s legal, it is my task to go execute that with all the energy and power that I have.

QUESTION:  If he wins a second term, will you continue to be Secretary of State?  You know there are calls for you to run for Senate in Kansas.  Don’t expect you to say, “Yes, I’m going to run here, Gayle.”  But if he does, if he wins again, do you want to be Secretary of State?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I would love to serve for him just as long as I can.  It’s a great opportunity to get to lead this organization of 70,000-plus great Americans who are out there all across the world taking real risk for themselves and their families and delivering good, solid American diplomacy everywhere they are.

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Swearings-In: Satterfield (Turkey), Landau (Mexico), Blanchard (Slovenia)

 

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico

U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia