Nauert Withdraws, UN Ambassador Post Available Again, Hurry!

Posted: 12:30 am EST

 

We’re late on this but apparently, Heather Nauert who was publicly announced as nominee to be the next U.N. Ambassador has withdrawn herself from consideration citing “the past two months” as “grueling” for her family. Her statement released with the State Department announcement on February 16 says that “it is in the best interest” of her family to withdraw.

Bloomberg News says “Trump’s pick for UN ambassador had employed a nanny who was in US legally but didn’t have a US work permit.”

Wait. When was this nanny hired? The spokesperson job does not require senate confirmation but like almost all jobs at the State Department, it requires a security clearance. So are they saying that the nanny issue, if that was the issue, did not come up during her initial vetting when she first came to State two years ago?

MSM is also reporting that Ms. Nauert is not expected to return to her State Department jobs. Until her announced nomination, she was the department spokesperson, and for a while, she was also the Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, after the Senate-confirmed “R” Steve Goldstein was fired with Rex Tillerson.  In August 2018, the State Department appointed career FSO Robert Palladino as deputy spokesperson. But to-date, no one has been announced to succeed her as spokesperson, and there’s not even an acting spokesperson.

In any case, the post of UN Ambassador is up for grabs again, and some names we’ve heard before, we are hearing once more.  The Apprentice UN Edition is now on, people! So exciting dammit, I nearly micturated!

A side note —

At times, though not always, the State spokesperson is also dual-hatted as the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. The assistant secretary position used to be Senate-confirmed but P.L. 112-116, the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 (signed into law August 10, 2012), removed the requirement for Senate confirmation of Assistant Secretaries of State for Public Affairs.

Anyone remember why this was done?

You should know that on February 5, Secretary Pompeo delegated to Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michelle Giuda the authorities of the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (R). Her official title is “Senior Official for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs.

It appears that the State Department is just going with “senior official” now and no longer even make use of the “acting” title for officials.  It also appears that the State Department no longer adhere to the previous practice of only appointing Senate-confirmed officials in “acting” capacity (don’t remember senior officials as responsible for their bureaus prior to this administration). We should note that only one official at the “R” bureau has been confirmed by the Senate, that’s the Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce (and spouse of former HFAC chair Ed Royce).

Is this Pompeo’s version of Trump’s “I like acting. It gives me more flexibility.”

 

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@StateDept Runs Out of Sr. Officials to Swear-In New Asst Secretary For Public Affairs?

Posted: 3:32 am ET

 

On January 4, the WH announced the President’s appointment of Michelle Giuda, the former Deputy National Press Secretary to Speaker Newt Gingrich to be the next Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. Ms Giuda has been  Senior VP for PR firm, Weber Shandwick (see PR SVP and Ex-Gingrich Aide Michelle Giuda to be Asst Secretary of State for Public Affairs). State/Flickr says the swearing-in photo was taken on Friday, February 2, but the caption itself says Saturday, February 3.  The State Department spokesperson who reports to the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs tweeted a welcome to her new boss, who apparently was sworn-in on Saturday, February 3.

So the new Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs was not only sworn-in on a Saturday, she also did not have any senior State Department official to swear her in? Secretary Tillerson is on travel to Bariloche, Argentina; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lima, Peru; Bogotá, Colombia; and Kingston, Jamaica. And it looks like Ms. Guida’s new boss U/S Steve Goldstein is also traveling with Secretary Tillerson.  Deputy Secretary Sullivan was spending his weekend somewhere, it was the weekend afterall. We’re sure the State Department has a reasonable explanation for this Saturday swearing-in across the park, it looks like, and also about those exciting red boxes on its org chart.

Jennifer Wicks from the Offie (sic) of Presidential Appointments officiates the swearing-in ceremony for Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Michelle Giuda in Washington, D.C. on February 3, 2018. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

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PR SVP and Ex-Gingrich Aide Michelle Giuda to be Asst Secretary of State for Public Affairs

Posted: 12:24 am ET

 

On January 4, the WH announced the President’s appointment of Michelle Giuda, the former Deputy National Press Secretary to Speaker Newt Gingrich to be the next Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. Ms Giuda has been  Senior VP for PR firm, Weber Shandwick. Via White House:

Michelle Giuda of New York, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Public Affairs). Ms. Giuda has been the Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Communications at Weber Shandwick in New York, New York, since 2014.  She oversees global communications strategy across 81 countries at Weber Shandwick, a global public relations firms with offices in major media, business, and government capitals around the world.  During her tenure, Weber Shandwick became the most awarded public relations firm at the 2016 Cannes Lion Festival of Creativity, the first firm to be named PRWeek’s Global Agency of the Year for three consecutive years, and the only PR agency on Advertising Age’s A-List in 2014 and 2015.  Ms. Giuda was named one of the Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business by the Asian American Business Development Center in 2016.  Previously, she served as Deputy National Press Secretary to Speaker Newt Gingrich and Communications Director for GOPAC in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Giuda graduated, cum laude, with a B.A. from the University of California Los Angeles, where she won an NCAA Championship and captained the UCLA Women’s Gymnastics Team; and she earned an M.P.S. from George Washington University.

*

This position does not require Senate confirmation. Here’s a quick summary of the position according to history.state.gov:

The Department of State created the position of Assistant Secretary of State for Public and Cultural Relations during a general reorganization in Dec 1944, after Congress authorized an increase in the number of Assistant Secretaries in the Department from four to six (Dec 8, 1944; P.L. 78-472; 58 Stat. 798). The reorganization was the first to designate substantive designations for specific Assistant Secretary positions. The Department changed the title to Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs in 1946. Initially, incumbents supervised the forerunners of the U.S. Information Agency and the Voice of America. P.L. 112-116, the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 (signed into law August 10, 2012), removed the requirement for Senate confirmation of Assistant Secretaries of State for Public Affairs.

Previous appointees to this position include Admiral John F. Kirby (2015–2017), Margaret DeBardeleben Tutwiler (1989–1992), American poet and Pulitzer Prize writer, Archibald MacLeish (1944–1945), and Career Ambassador Richard A. Boucher, who served the longest from 2001–2005.

Posted and deleted from Medium:

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@StateDept Public Affairs Game Show: Tillerson Attends “Private Event”? #ButTelevised

Posted: 1:39 am ET

 

AND NOW THIS – WITH JUST A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR ….

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Spox: New @UnderSecPD Goldstein Believes Fundamentally in the Right of a Free Press – Yay!

Posted: 12:55 am ET

 

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@StateDept Spox Explains Why Maliz Beams Left the Counselor Post – Oh, Lordy!

Posted: 2:26 am ET

 

As best we could tell, Secretary Tillerson first talked about the redesign at his agency as an “employee-led” effort on August 9, 2017 at a quick stop at the U.S. Embassy in Malaysia:

We’ve taken that information now and we’ve set up a number of work teams. Now this whole effort is led by the employees of the State Department, your colleagues. We have a steering team that helps guide them that’s chaired by Deputy Secretary Sullivan. But we really are wanting this to be an employee-led redesign effort, and it’s all about looking at how we get our work done. 

But back in July, an unnamed State Department spokesperson appeared on the July 17, 2017 Foreign Policy piece Tillerson to Shutter State Department War Crimes Office, talking about the “employee-led redesign initiative.”

So, it’s quite hilarious to read the State Department spokesperson’s response during the Daily Press Briefing of November 27 when asked about the departure of Maliz Beams.

Keep in mind that Maliz Beams did not join the State Department until August 17, 2017 (see Former Voya Financial CEO Maliz Beams Reportedly Appointed @StateDept Counselor@StateDept Now Has an Official Bio For New Counselor of the State Department Maliz E. Beams).

When asked why Ms. Beams left her post, Official Spokesperson Heather Nauert said “She said to me that she came here to set the vision for the redesign.” Further Ms. Nauert said, “She sets the vision. She’s done that for this organization. She feels that she’s accomplished that in setting the vision. She said to me, quote, “I feel good about it.”

A member of the press corps was quick to ask a fairly simple follow-up question – “in a sentence, what is the vision that she has set for the redesign?” The official response is a pretzels demo:

“Well, one of the things that we’ve said is that this is an employee-driven process. And a lot of folks made fun of this, but asking employees what they want, what changes they want, is something that is new and something that is significant, and that is something that they have been able to do to determine where there are redundancies. And that’s one of the ways that we will do that.”

Is Ms. Nauert suggesting that the “employee-driven” or employee-led” process was Ms. Beams’ vision for the redesign? And if so, how was Ms. Beams able to do this when a month before she joined the State Department, an unnamed spokesperson was already talking about the redesign in those same terms?

If the spox was not suggesting that the “employee-driven process” was Ms. Beams’ vision at the State Department, what the heck was she talking about. What was the vision-setting that Ms. Beams accomplished at the agency during her three-month tenure?

Excerpt from the transcript:

QUESTION: Why did Maliz Beams leave her post as counselor of the department?

MS NAUERT: So Maliz Beams was brought in to help pull together the redesign. That’s one of the things that the Secretary said is important to him and important to the State Department. And frankly, when you ask people here, the rank and file, what they think about the redesign, while our communications have not been fantastic – I will admit that – the – they support by and large the efforts of the redesign, acknowledging that the State Department can become more efficient and operate more effectively with the redesign.

Maliz Beams – I spoke with her earlier today at length. I was there yesterday when she announced to senior staff that she would be leaving the State Department. Maliz made the decision to resign from the State Department. She said to me that she came here to set the vision for the redesign. She has done this for many companies. She’s had a 30-year career in this line of work. She sets the vision. She’s done that for this organization. She feels that she’s accomplished that in setting the vision. She said to me, quote, “I feel good about it.” So now is the time when she decided that she wanted to step back and that it was the time for the State Department to be able to pick it up from here.

We are in phase three of the redesign right now. There are 70 initiatives that she helped enable to prepare to launch. Those initiatives are being chaired by some of our top career people who have been here for many, many years, included among them names and faces you will know: Ambassador Bill Todd, also Ambassador Marcia Bernicat from Bangladesh. They are involved in these 70 initiatives. They are people that the building knows, they are people that the building trust, they are people who love this institution. I can tell you that the Secretary is expected to speak with staff here at the State Department sometime in the near future. I don’t have a date for that just yet. And then we have our new under secretary for public diplomacy and political affairs, who will be handling some of the communications going forward.

QUESTION: She was not asked or encouraged to leave?

MS NAUERT: She made the decision to step down.

QUESTION: No, no. She couldn’t make the decision to step down after having been encouraged to consider whether to step down?

MS NAUERT: She made the decision to step down.

QUESTION: But was not encouraged or asked to step down?

MS NAUERT: Not to my knowledge. I was not in the meeting at the time, but I spoke with her. I also spoke with our deputy secretary and others about this, and this was her decision.

QUESTION: Heather, in a sentence, what is the vision that she has set for the redesign?

MS NAUERT: Well, one of the things that we’ve said is that this is an employee-driven process. And a lot of folks made fun of this, but asking employees what they want, what changes they want, is something that is new and something that is significant, and that is something that they have been able to do to determine where there are redundancies. And that’s one of the ways that we will do that. Among the other things in the redesign that has been highlighted as important to this department and it may seem kind of dopey to a lot of folks who have great computers and comms like you all do, but to get a better computer system in place. I cannot stress —

QUESTION: A better commuter system?

MS NAUERT: Computer system.

QUESTION: Oh, oh, oh. Because I was going to go all in on the better commuter system. (Laughter.) The Metro is awful.

MS NAUERT: It is extremely frustrating when you are trying to respond to press questions, for example. How many times have you all heard from me or from Robert or Robert’s predecessor, Mark Stroh, when our comms are down for a very long time? It is embarrassing. We can’t get to you, you can’t get to us. Well, imagine if we need to reach folks around the world. So that has been a problem. And that’s one of the things that the Secretary and Maliz Beams has identified as being something that we want to make more efficient and better. Okay.

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Tillerson Delivers Remarks at the Redesign Leadership Gathering #AllTheHappyPeople

Posted: 1:20 pm PT

 

Via state.gov

Secretary Tillerson was over at the Foreign Service Institute on November 29 and apparently delivered the opening remarks at the Redesign Leadership Gathering.  We don’t know what he said over there since the Bureau of Public Affairs has not seen it fit to post the transcript of his official remarks online.

Secretary Tillerson Delivers Opening Remarks at the Redesign Leadership Gathering | U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivered opening remarks at the Redesign Leadership Gathering at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia on November 29, 2017. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

 [for full visual effect, click on image above or here for a larger view]

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@StateDept Now Has an Official Bio For New Counselor of the State Department Maliz E. Beams

Posted: 12:26 am ET
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On August 23, 2017, we blogged about the appointment of the new Counselor of the State Department (see Former Voya Financial CEO Maliz Beams Reportedly Appointed @StateDept Counselor).

We don’t  recall ever seeing a public announcement of this appointment. The new bio page of Ms Beams indicates that she was appointed to this position on August 17, 2017. We recall searching but not finding her official bio on state.gov. We found it this week. This position reports directly to the Secretary of State, and does not require Senate confirmation.

Via state.gov

The Counselor of the Department, Maliz E. Beams, is a principal officer who serves the Secretary as a special advisor and consultant on major problems of foreign policy and who provides guidance to the appropriate bureaus with respect to such matters. The Counselor conducts special international negotiations and consultations, and also undertakes special assignments from time to time, as directed by the Secretary.

Below is the official bio published by the State Department:

Maliz E. Beams was appointed as Counselor to the Department of State on August 17, 2017. Ms. Beams was the CEO of VOYA Financial Retirement Services, the largest publicly-traded retirement company, for several years. She previously served as President & CEO of TIAA Institutional and Individual Client Services, LLC and as President of Global Business Development for Zurich Scudder Investments. She also held senior management positions at Fleet Bank (now Bank of America), American Express, and Citibank.

Ms. Beams led highly successful organizational transformations in a variety of financial services industry sectors. She was named one of the nation’s Most Powerful Women in Finance – including six years in the top 10 – by American Banker. She was also honored by Legal Momentum for her work on shaping laws and policies that affect gender equality; and she has been listed in the Who’s Who of American Women.

Ms. Beams currently serves on several nonprofit and public company boards including: Columbia Business School’s Executive Board of Financial Studies; New England Aquarium’s Board of Directors; Mount Auburn Hospital-Harvard Medical Teaching Hospital; Vestigo Ventures’ Advisory Board; and Cetera Financial Services Board of Directors. In the past, she has also served on the boards of the Junior Achievement Worldwide Global Board of Governors and The Employee Benefits Retirement Institute.

A native of Boston, Ms. Beams earned her Bachelor Degree from Boston College and completed her post graduate Special Studies in Strategic Planning at Harvard University. She holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Columbia University.

 

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SecState Who Was Called a Dog, Reportedly Called POTUS an “F-ing Moron” #RealLife

Posted: 4:10 am ET
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Less than 48 hours after Secretary Tillerson was called Donald Trump’s dog (see WaPo’s Dana Milbank Goes Scooby-Doo Slap-A-Lympics on Tillerson – Holy Bow Wow!), NBC News was out with a scoop where Secretary Tillerson was reported to have called POTUS a  “moron” this past summer (see Tillerson’s Fury at Trump Required an Intervention From Pence). So then Mr. Tillerson, fourth in line to the throne, excuse me, the presidency, came out to speak to his long lost friends in the media in Foggy Bottom.

He starts with expressing his commitment to the success of President Trump:

There were some news reports this morning that I want to address. First, my commitment to the success of our President and our country is as strong as it was the day I accepted his offer to serve as Secretary of State. President Trump’s “America first” agenda has given voice to millions who felt completely abandoned by the political status quo and who felt their interests came second to those of other countries. President Trump’s foreign policy goals break the mold of what people traditionally think is achievable on behalf of our country.

He spent a paragraph of his remarks addressing the “erroneous” reporting involving the VP though he did not talk about that Nikki Haley part of the report helpfully provided on the record by his comm advisor:

To address a few specifics that have been erroneously reported this morning, the Vice President has never had to persuade me to remain the Secretary of State because I have never considered leaving this post. I value the friendship and the counsel of the Vice President and I admire his leadership within President Trump’s administration to address the many important agendas of President Trump, both from a foreign policy perspective and a diplomatic – I’m sorry, a domestic objective.

This presser is clearly intended for an audience of one. His  speechwriters get points for calling POTUS “smart” and remembering to include the “America First” slogan:

Let me tell you what I’ve learned about this President, whom I did not know before taking this office. He loves his country. He puts Americans and America first. He’s smart. He demands results wherever he goes, and he holds those around him accountable for whether they’ve done the job he’s asked them to do. Accountability is one of the bedrock values the President and I share.

Oops … and this!

While I’m new to Washington, I have learned that there are some who try to sow dissension to advance their own agenda by tearing others apart in an effort to undermine President Trump’s own agenda. I do not and I will not operate that way, and the same applies to everyone on my team here at the State Department.

His full statement is here.

Congrats to Tillerson’s speechwriters. It worked!

Click here for the State Department spox Heather Nauert who officially denied from the podium that the Secretary of State called the President of the United States a “moron.”  For the record, the reporter  said “My source didn’t just say he called him a moron. He said he called him an f-ing moron.” 

We’d like to know what kind of talking points Public Affairs is sending out to the field so our diplomats overseas can respond to their host countries’ inquiries, and whether they’re allowed to wear brown paper bags over their heads.

One reporter asked during the Daily Press Briefing, “Tillerson’s own spokesperson came out and walked back information that he had given to that story that apparently wasn’t accurate. And he said that he spoke out of line about conversations that he was not privy to. So that seems to me that he contributed inaccurate information to that story. On another occasion he denied conversations had happened between the State Department and the White House that multiple sources told us did happen, including a White House source. So how can we believe what the State Department says did or did not happen when Tillerson’s own spokesperson seems to be putting information out there that is not necessarily accurate?”

The spox’s response: “Honesty, being forthright, integrity is something that the Secretary has spoken to often. That is a value that he holds very close and very dear.[…] My colleague issued some tweets in response to that. I think I certainly share his sentiment in that he regrets those. His statement say that he spoke out of line about conversations he wasn’t privy to.”

The reporter pursued the question: “But if he’s giving information to a reporter that is categorically false on what seems to be now two occasions, how does the Secretary feel about his own spokesperson?”

The spox’s response:  “I have not asked the Secretary that question.”

Um … “why not?”

AND NOW THIS —

We all know that this is not going to be the end of this exhausting drama. We’re just gonna stock on this shirt in our bunker so we’ll have a permanently screaming owl on our chest 24/7 from hereon (via Amazon Affiliate).

 

@StateDept Corrections Over Tillerson’s Afghanistan Remarks Get an Easy “F”

Posted: 10:07 am PT
Updated: 7:00 pm PT
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Via state.gov:

The published corrections actually need corrections:

Tillerson: Our Afghan ambassador [1] is remaining on the job at this time.
[1] State Dept Correction: The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan remains in position.

Let’s help with the correction: In the absence of a Senate-confirmed Ambassador to Afghanistan, Special Chargé d’Affaires to Afghanistan is Ambassador Hugo Llorens; he remains on the job.  The most recent Senate-confirmed COM was P. Michael McKinley; he departed post in December 2016. Afghanistan and Pakistan are two different countries.

“Our Afghan ambassador”  –  The U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan is not the “Afghan Ambassador.” Any “Afghan Ambassador” is an Afghan who represents Afghanistan and holds office at the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan either in Washington, D.C. or at whatever country he is accredited to. While “Afghanistan Ambassador” is not wrong, there’s really no usefully correct way of abbreviating “U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan,” or, for that matter, any country.  It is way too easy to cause confusion, not just in the title, but whom the Ambassador represents.  A “U.S. Ambassador” to anywhere is an American who represents the United States. The “Afghan Ambassador” is not.

Tillerson: We have a Pakistan ambassador [2] that’s been nominated; we hope to have that person cleared through the process soon.
[2] State Dept Correction: A nominee for U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan has been named.

Let’s help with the correction: The current U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan is Ambassador David Hale who was  confirmed as Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on August 5, 2015. As far as we can tell, no nominee has been announced as new ambassador to Pakistan. The current U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass has been nominated to be the next ambassador to Afghanistan.  Afghanistan and Pakistan are two different countries.

Tillerson: And even in the transition in Afghanistan, as Ambassador Hale [3] transitions out, we’ve nominated Ambassador Bass.
[3] Correction: Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Hugo Llorens remains in position.

Sigh! Special Chargé d’Affaires to Afghanistan Ambassador Hugo Llorens remains in position. Ambassador Llorens was appointed to Kabul in December 2016. Which could mean he will stay on as DCM after Ambassador John Bass is confirmed, or he will transition out when his tour concludes in January if he’s on a 13 month assignment. Ambassador Hale is the chief of mission at the US Embassy in Pakistan. Afghanistan and Pakistan are two different countries. Period.

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