Donald Trump's science envoy resigns, and sends the president an important message

Donald Trump's reaction to Charlottesville is bothering a lot of important people

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published August 23, 2017 2:31PM (EDT)

 (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)
(Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

President Donald Trump's infamous response to the Charlottesville riots — namely, saying that both sides were to blame and that there were "very fine people" marching as white supremacists — has prompted yet another high profile resignation from his administration.

Daniel M. Kammen, who served as a science envoy for the State Department and focused on renewable energy development in the Middle East and Northern Africa, submitted a letter of resignation on Wednesday. Notably, he began the first letter of each paragraph with letters that spelled out I-M-P-E-A-C-H. That followed a letter earlier this month by writer Jhumpa Lahiri and actor Kal Penn to similarly spell R-E-S-I-S-T in their joint letter of resignation from the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities.

Kammen's hidden message wasn't nearly as scathing as the direct one.

"My decision to resign is in response to your attacks on core values of the United States," Kammen wrote. "Your failure to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis has domestic and international ramifications."

Kammen added, "Particularly troubling to me is how your response to Charlottesville is consistent with a broader pattern of behavior that enables sexism and racism, and disregards the welfare of all Americans, the global community and the planet."

Perhaps Kammen's most eloquent moment, however, was one in which he quoted another Republican president, writing, "I find particularly wise the admonition of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who cautioned that, 'A people [or person] that values its privileges above principles soon loses both.'"

In a less condemning but similarly critical vein, Trump's ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, told a reporter for Israel's Channel 10 on Wednesday that Trump's reaction to the protests "wasn't fine."

Prior to these comments, Friedman had said that he thought Trump was being treated unfairly by the media.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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