President Trump can't fill the State Department — and the safety of U.S. diplomats may now be at risk

Trump was a candidate engrossed with Benghazi, yet diplomat safety has received little attention under his watch

By Rachel Leah
April 18, 2017 8:39AM (UTC)
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(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A quick check of the U.S. State Department's website shows seven out of nine of the senior official positions as vacant. To date, President Donald Trump has issued just two nominations to the State Department: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, confirmed in February and John Sullivan for Deputy Secretary, only announced last week.

With just two nominations in place and nearly 40 management and leadership positions vacant, Trump is far behind his predecessors. President Barack Obama had the two top positions, Deputy Secretary and Deputy secretary of management, confirmed in January of his first term. President George Bush had nominated seven top posts and President Bill Clinton nine, by mid-March of their first terms.


Not only has Trump proposed slashing the State Department's budget by a third, but one of the senior positions that remains unfilled is that of the official who supervises the safety of diplomats abroad.

As a candidate who railed against former secretary of state Hillary Clinton for the 2012 Benghazi attacks under her watch, this vacancy is deeply troubling. Trump even invited one of the victim's mothers to the final presidential debate.

For some Democrats, the emptiness of the state department proves Trump's campaign attacks were simply rhetoric, a political maneuver with no real merit. Even Republicans have expressed the urgency in filling crucial State Department posts, Politico reported.


“I hope a nominee for assistant secretary will be put forward soon,” said Rep. Ed Royce of California, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Democratic chairman, Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, has less faith. “I think it’s indicative of the low priority that Trump and the administration are placing on diplomacy or anything to do with the State Department," he told Politico.

Trump's public charges came after years of intense and lengthy investigations by Congressional Republicans in search of possible incriminating revelations about Clinton ahead of the 2016 election.

Rachel Leah

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Benghazi Diplomat Safety Donald Trump Embassy Security Hillary Clinton Rex Tillerson State Department