News broke yesterday that the entire senior management team at the State Department had left their jobs. Yet for some reason, hardly anyone has mentioned that congressional Republicans pursued Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy’s scalp for a long time.
While this development leaves the next Secretary of State without a single experienced subordinate to run the nation’s diplomatic service, it is pure delight to Breitbart readers who are obsessed with Hillary Clinton.
Because presidential appointees normally submit formal resignations at the beginning of every new administration, the departures of Gregory Starr, the Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security, and Lydia Muniz, director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, last Friday were not unexpected.
But as Josh Rogin reported the Washington Post, Kennedy, 67, had collaborated with the presidential transition team, and was reportedly eager to serve under the new administration when he abruptly quit yesterday, taking three more administrators with him.
Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions, followed him out the door. All are career foreign service officers who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.
[…] “It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” said David Wade, who served as State Department chief of staff under Secretary of State John Kerry. “Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector.”
“Whether Kennedy left on his own volition or was pushed out by the incoming Trump team is a matter of dispute inside the department,” Rogin reports. But it’s not hard to figure out what happened here.
While his career has been decidedly non-partisan, Kennedy was a prime target of Republican witch hunts over the Benghazi attacks and Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server — the issues that led to chants of “LOCK HER UP!” at Donald Trump’s campaign rallies.
Upon being elected, Trump dropped his demands for an indictment of Clinton over the emails, but also appointed Benghazi committee veteran Mike Pompeo to lead the CIA.
The obsession with Benghazi runs deep in this administration.
White House strategist and alt-right leader Steve Bannon was one of the central figures in the Groundswell lobbying group that badgered House Republicans into creating the special committee to ‘investigate’ Benghazi.
Back then he was CEO of Breitbart news, which published more than a dozen stories mentioning Kennedy and calling for his ouster. Bannon is even more vindictive than his boss, and would certainly have opposed the renewal of Kennedy’s appointment.
After he was accused of “running interference” for Clinton, Kennedy endured endless speculative hype from Rep. Trey Gowdy. Republicans also forced him to sit through a special committee hearing that was much longer, and far more combative, than former Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson’s Senate confirmation hearing.
If confirmed, Tillerson must begin his term with the time-consuming and difficult process of finding replacements for Kennedy and the rest of his senior management team because we are now being governed by Breitbart conspiracy theories.
The resulting turmoil promises to create further Benghazi-style disasters at US diplomatic posts, but of course Bannon and the GOP will just try to pin the blame for anything that happens on Clinton and Kennedy. It’s what they do.
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