In first month of Trump presidency, Tillerson and State Department have been sidelined

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…]

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One thought on “In first month of Trump presidency, Tillerson and State Department have been sidelined

  1. Dieter Heymann

    Well that is no longer wholly true. Tillerson was in Mexico and he was the first of the two main US representatives (the other was Kelly) to speak after their meetings with their Mexican counterparts. Their statements did not contain the words “Mexico must”.
    If this means anything it signals a slight return to a more traditional conservative US foreign policy from Trump’s tightrope walking foreign policy. Whether President Trump will allow that to continue or whether he is going to throw Tillerson and Kelly under his bus with new aggressive talk against Mexico remains to be seen. If that happens will Tillerson and Kelly do a reverse DeVos?

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