Senior diplomats resign as Trump foreign policy takes shape
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Senior diplomats resign as Trump foreign policy takes shape

Diplomats privately express concern about serving in new administration; secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson expected to be confirmed next week

In this Sept. 21, 2011 file photo, State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
In this Sept. 21, 2011 file photo, State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A handful of senior US diplomats are resigning their posts during President Donald Trump’s first week on the job, creating more high-level openings that the new president must fill.

State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy, a career foreign service officer, planned to retire effective Friday, the State Department said. He was joined by two assistant secretaries, Joyce Barr and Michele Bond, who both resigned Wednesday. Gentry Smith, who directs the Office of Foreign Missions, was also departing.

The four join a growing list of long-serving diplomats declining to stay on into the Trump administration. That list includes Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, and Gregory Starr, the assistant secretary for diplomatic security. Starr retired on Inauguration Day.

Although none of the officials has linked his or her departure explicitly to Trump, many diplomats have privately expressed concern about serving in his administration, given the unorthodox positions he’s taken on many foreign policy issues.

In this Friday, March 27, 2015 file photo, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson delivers remarks on the release of a report by the National Petroleum Council on oil drilling in the Arctic, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
In this Friday, March 27, 2015 file photo, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson delivers remarks on the release of a report by the National Petroleum Council on oil drilling in the Arctic, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Trump has yet to fill many top diplomatic jobs, including the deputy secretary roles. His nominee to be secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, is expected to be confirmed by the Senate next week.

President Donald Trump takes the cap off a pen before signing executive order for immigration actions to build border wall during a visit to the Homeland Security Department in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Donald Trump takes the cap off a pen before signing executive order for immigration actions to build border wall during a visit to the Homeland Security Department in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Kennedy, relied upon by both Democrats and Republicans, was tapped for the undersecretary post in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Kennedy stayed on throughout President Barack Obama’s term. His position oversees the department’s budget and finances, security, global facilities and consular services.

Kennedy, a diplomat since 1973, was criticized for the department’s insufficient security at the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans were killed in 2012. In testy congressional hearings, Kennedy defended then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handling of the situation and insisted there was no “stand down” order to the US military during the attack.

Bureau records also showed Kennedy asked for the FBI’s help in 2015 to change the classification level of an email from Clinton’s private server. The FBI ultimately rejected the request.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

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