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Tillerson/Priebus Standoff on Ambassadorships, Plus Rumored Names/Posts (Updated)

Posted: 2:03 am  ET
Updated: 2:31 pm PT

 

The following report may explain the slow announcement of ambassador picks under the Trump administration. To-date, only two ambassador’s postings have been announced, China and Israel. The nominee for Israel, David Friedman has a scheduled confirmation hearing this week.   Terry Branstad’s nomination as Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China was sent to the Senate on January 20 but so far, no schedule has been announced by the SFRC. Note that Nikki Haley was previously announced as Trump’s pick for the UN and was confirmed by the Senate on January 24. Her official title is United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, an ambassador-rank position; it is also a cabinet level position. 

For a list of ambassadorships that may be the cause of the reported standoff between Secretary Tillerson and WH Chief of Staff Priebus, see America’s Cushiest Ambassadorships Will Go Vacant By Inauguration Day.

Via the WSJ:

Senior White House advisers have suggested to cabinet secretaries or nominees that they need to be consulted on all personnel and policy decisions, creating friction between the agencies and the White House officials who have been permanently stationed inside their buildings.

Many of the U.S. ambassadorships remain unfilled, a result of a standoff between Mr. Tillerson and Mr. Priebus, the chief of staff, said people familiar with the process.

Below is a round-up of names floated around as possible picks for ambassadorships to Canada, Austria, Dominican Republic, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Czech Republic, and the UK.

Ex-Senator Scott Brown to New Zealand

Sarah Palin to Canada, to Canada. Or not.

Patrick Park, Sound of Music Fan to Austria?

From Palm Beach — Robin Bernstein to the Dominican Republic? Brian Burns to Ireland?

Major Campaign Donors Lewis Eisenberg to Italy, William Hagerty to Japan?

Woody Johnson to the United Kingdom, but role not official?

Ivana to the Czech Republic, and she’ll get agrément?

Ted Malloch, potential European Union pick attacks the EU?

Miami Marlins owner Jeff Loria to head to France?

GOP activist Georgette Mosbacher to Luxembourg?

Hedge funder Duke Buchan to Spain?

Edwin Feulner, Heritage Foundation founder to South Korea?

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America’s Cushiest Ambassadorships Will Go Vacant By Inauguration Day

Posted: 2:46 am ET

 

Unless requested to stay on, all political appointees of the outgoing Obama administration are expected to leave by the time President-elect Trump is sworn into office on Inauguration Day. The expectation includes politically appointed ambassadors (see Foreign Service Tradition: Political Ambassadors Have To Be Out By January 20). Some reports say that all Obama ambassadors were recalled, or fired, or asked to quit by January 20. All ambassadors were appointed by President Obama, so they are all Obama ambassadors.  About 50 ambassadors who are political appointees will step down by January 20.  The fact that these positions will go vacant next week is not unique, of course; the last time embassies went through this exact process was in January 2009, and previous to that, in January 2001, and on and on.  Those who are career ambassadors (worked up the ranks) were not asked to submit their resignations during this transition so they will continue with their tenures. If there are career ambassadors also stepping down in the next few weeks, those would merely be coincidences when their typical 3-year tour ends and they “rotate” to their new assignments.

Due to popular demand, we’ve compiled a list where political ambassadors are expected to step down next week.  The list is primarily extracted from a State Department document on ambassadorial assignments overseas prepared by the Office of Presidential Appointments (HR/PAS).  We’ve added a couple of vacancies that occurred since the document was last updated in October 2016. You will note that these embassies/posts are in some of the world’s most desirable locations. These positions are sometimes described as some of the “world’s cushiest ambassadorships” or the State Department’s “swankiest gigs”.  The list below also includes vacancies most recently encumbered by political appointees (with the exception of Syria which is traditionally encumbered by a career ambassador, and currently on suspended operation).

 

Ambassadors List (Political Appointees) Jan 2017 | p.1

Ambassadors List (Political Appointees) Jan 2017 | 1/2

Ambassadors List (Political Appointees) Jan 2017 | p.2

Ambassadors List (Political Appointees) Jan 2017 | 2/2

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Trump Names David Friedman, Two-State Solution Critic as Next Ambassador to Israel

Posted: 12:51 am ET

 

On December 15, President-elect Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate David Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer and two-state solution critic as his Ambassador to Israel.  Mr. Friendman issued a statement saying, “I intend to work tirelessly to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region, and look forward to doing this from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

 The Trump Transition issued the following statement:

President-elect Donald J. Trump on Thursday announced the nomination of Mr. David Friedman to serve as the United States Ambassador to Israel.

Mr. Friedman, a renowned attorney who has been counselor to some of the world’s top businessmen and companies, was one of the President-elect’s principal advisors on the US-Israel relationship during the campaign.

When Israel proclaimed itself an independent republic in 1948, the United States was the first country to extend formal recognition of the new government. From that moment forward, the two nations have enjoyed a special relationship based on mutual respect and a dedication to freedom and democracy.

With Mr. Friedman’s nomination, President-elect Trump expressed his commitment to further enhancing the US-Israel relationship and ensuring there will be extraordinary strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries.

“The bond between Israel and the United States runs deep, and I will ensure there is no daylight between us when I’m President,” said President-elect Trump. “As the United States’ Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman will maintain the special relationship between our two countries. He has been a long-time friend and trusted advisor to me. His strong relationships in Israel will form the foundation of his diplomatic mission and be a tremendous asset to our country as we strengthen the ties with our allies and strive for peace in the Middle East. Nothing is more critical than protecting the security of our citizens at home and abroad.”

Mr. Friedman, whose bar mitzvah was held at the Western Wall in Jerusalem 45 years ago, is a fluent speaker of Hebrew and a lifelong student of Israel’s history. On Thursday, he expressed his resolve to be a rock-solid partner with the Israeli leadership as our two countries seek to advance our mutual interests and keep our people safe.

“I am deeply honored and humbled by the confidence placed in me by President-elect Trump to represent the United States as its Ambassador to Israel,” said Mr. Friedman. “I intend to work tirelessly to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region, and look forward to doing this from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

Mr. Friedman is a founding partner of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP, a national law firm with approximately 350 attorneys. For the past 35 years, he has specialized in litigation and bankruptcy law, playing a leading role in restructuring many of the nation’s most complex financial and business operations. Mr. Friedman has been widely recognized for his outstanding contributions to the legal profession, and has been named one of the 500 leading lawyers in the United States.

Mr. Friedman has been a generous philanthropist to Jewish causes, including United Hatzalah of Israel, a nationwide volunteer service of first responders providing aid to all injured Israelis, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity, and Aleh Negev, one of the world’s most advanced facilities for the care of severely disabled children.

Under his leadership and at the President-elect’s direction, the US-Israel relationship will be a model of cooperation and respect.

About that U.S. Embassy:

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Related posts:

 

 

 

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Trump to Nominate Iowa Gov Terry Branstad as U.S. Ambassador to China

Posted: 2:19 am ET
Updated: Dec 8, 3:37 pm PT

 

President-elect Trump has yet to make a decision on who will be his secretary of state. That search has expanded and the news media reports that this is now a 10-man race for the 69th Secretary of State. While the search is ongoing, Mr. Trump has apparently already offered the ambassadorship to China to Terry Branstad, and the Iowa governor has accepted.

On December 7, Governor Branstad released a statement saying, “I am honored and humbled to be nominated to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to China.”  His statement also said: “The United States – Chinese bilateral relationship is at a critical point.  Ensuring the countries with the two largest economies and two largest militaries in the world maintain a collaborative and cooperative relationship is needed more now than ever. The President-elect understands my unique relationship to China and has asked me to serve in a way I had not previously considered.”

Governor Branstad has served as Iowa Governor from 1983-1999 and 2011 to the present.  His relationship with China goes back to 1983 when he signed a formal agreement establishing the sister-state relationship between Hebei province and Iowa. In 1985, Xi Jinping, then a county-level party leader from Hebei, visited Iowa for the very first time and met with Governor Branstad at the state capitol. In 2012, when Vice President Xi visited Des Moines and Muscatine, Governor Branstad sent a personal thank-you to Xi and invited him to an “old friends” reunion dinner. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman also called Governor Branstad an “old friend of the Chinese people.” Senator Chuck Grassley tweeted that “Gov Branstad has longstanding relationship w Pres of China so his nomination is good 4 our national interest.”

If confirmed by the Senate after January 20, Governor Branstad will be President Trump’s personal representative to the People’s Republic of China. He will not actually report to the White House but to the still unnamed secretary of state at the State Department, through the East Asia Pacific Bureau.

Some of Governor Branstad’s predecessors at the US Embassy in Beijing include Senator Max Sieben Baucus (1941–) who was appointed by President Obama on March 20, 2014; former WA Governor Gary Locke (1950–) who served from 2011–2014; former Bush ambassador to Singapore Jon M. Huntsman Jr. (1960–) who President Obama appointed to Beijing from 2009–2011; and former President George Herbert Walker Bush (1924–) who served as Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in Peking (Beijing) from 1974 to 1975.

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And the Ambassadorship Race Is On: Ivana Wants the Czech Republic

Posted: 1:43 am ET

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Obama’s Career Ambassadorship Appointments: Highest on Record at 70.8% #ThanksObama

Posted: 1:09 am ET

 

According to @Philip Arsenault who has done a lot of good work using presidential records to track the ambassadorial appointees going back to FDR, President Obama appointed to-date the highest number of career diplomats as ambassadors at 70.8%, and the lowest number of non-career political appointees at 29.2%.

The political ambassadorships during Obama’s two terms amount to 29.2% of his total appointments, which is lower than President Carter, previously the lowest on record at 30.8%.

AFSA’s ambassadorship tracker has different numbers but we’ve stopped using the group’s ambassador statistics since 2015.  See our write up on AFSA’s Ambassador Statistics here and why we find its data problematic.

 

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Self-Service: Debating the Merits of the Different Ambassadorships

Posted: 3:25 am ET

Via NYT:

At first-come-first-served seats near the bar, assistants huddled around lengthy spreadsheets, figuring out which donors were entitled to which passes to which events. Outside, a protester walked with a sign denouncing big money. Inside, two stocky men could be heard debating the merits of the different ambassadorships they hoped to earn under Mrs. Clinton. Even a low-ranking posting meant having “ambassador” on a child’s wedding invitation, the two agreed, and would be helpful in wrangling invitations to sit on corporate boards.

Wow! That’s real public service. We hope they can find those low-ranking posts on the map!

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Will ambassadorships become part of the horse trading for delegates this summer?

Posted: 12:32 am EDT

 

According to Fox News, delegates become “unbound” and are free to support other contenders as soon as their candidate withdraws.

Rubio, in suspending his campaign after his home-state Florida loss, leaves 169 delegates behind. Ben Carson accrued eight delegates before he dropped out of the race, while Jeb Bush picked up four. Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul each picked up one in Iowa.

And if either Ted Cruz or John Kasich drop out in the weeks ahead — and Donald Trump still has not clinched the nomination with the necessary 1,237 delegates — additional zombie delegates could be in play in Cleveland.
[…]
They would become essentially free agents, prizes to be wooed by the candidates duking it out in Cleveland.
[…]
In the 1976 Republican convention, it was the unbound delegates moving toward President Gerald Ford instead of Ronald Reagan that handed Ford the nomination that year. Ford held a slight lead going into the convention, but was shy of an outright majority.In part by using the power of the White House, with promises of visits and patronage to woo over delegates, Ford won the nomination on the first ballot, by a slim 60 votes.

In addition to these “zombie” delegates, there are apparently also 112 Republican delegates who are “unbound” because their states and territories – North Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, American Samoa and Guam – hold no primaries or caucuses. According to Real Clear Politics, delegates are chosen at state convention without reference to voters’ views on the presidential candidates.

Below is a link to a video clip with Ben Ginsberg, a Republican attorney who has served as counsel to the Republican National Committee and several presidential campaigns talking on MSNBC.  He explains what happens to Marco Rubio’s delegates now that the candidate has suspended his campaign, and the role that unbound delegates play in the Republican primary process. It looks like promises and patronage can play a big part in wooing over delegates. Will ambassadorships become part of the horse trading as candidates duke it out in Cleveland this summer?  Oh boy!  “A lot of ambassadorships out there and some 1500 Schedule C jobs.” See the great legal question and the answer.  Watch at the 1:59 mark.

The video can also be viewed here on MSNBC.

 

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Email of the Day: Rejection Letter For Chief of Mission Aspirant

Posted: 12:05 am EDT

 

An individual whose name is redacted wrote an April 2012 email to State Department Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills saying “Disappointingly EAP was unable to nominate me for a COM position ….” and that he was “running out of option.”   Mills forward the email to HRC saying she advised the individual “given his interest in Slovenia and Iceland to meet w/ Phil.” Phil is most probably Philip Gordon who served as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR) from 2009-13.

The rejection letter/email that the aspiring ambassador received came from Joseph Yun who was then Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP) and currently U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia. The email is part of the latest Clinton email dump.

 

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Burn Bag: Not Yet Nominee Jumps the Gun, er … Confirmation Jet Pack?

Via Burn Bag:

“Who is the as yet unnominated Civil Service member who is SO certain of her ambassadorship that she is already tasking the desk and her prospective post with confirmation prep? Is Congress as certain of her ambassadorship as she is?”

lftoff

liftoff via reactiongifs.com

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