The Washington Post reports: The Trump administration in its first month has largely benched the State Department from its long-standing role as the preeminent voice of U.S. foreign policy, curtailing public engagement and official travel and relegating Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to a mostly offstage role.
Decisions on hiring, policy and scheduling are being driven by a White House often wary of the foreign policy establishment and struggling to set priorities and write policy on the fly.
The most visible change at the State Department is the month-long lack of daily press briefings, a fixture since John Foster Dulles was secretary of state in the 1950s. The televised question-and-answer session is watched closely around the world, and past administrations have pointed proudly to the accountability of having a government spokesman available to domestic and foreign press almost every day without fail. [Continue reading…]
Politico reports: How the department will deal with the media is just one of a slew of questions being asked across the State Department, where career employees are increasingly frustrated by shortages in staffing, cuts in certain divisions and an overall lack of direction from the top.
“We have a hell of a lot of smart people sitting on their hands because there isn’t any policy guidance coming down,” one State source said.
Meanwhile, several dozen Trump-appointed political staffers have arrived in Foggy Bottom, many of whom are still learning the ropes and are wary of engaging with the civil servants.
“It’s like high school,” said the State official familiar with Tillerson’s media request. “The Trump people all sit together at the tables at lunch.” [Continue reading…]