USA: Key Ambassador Post Vacant While High Turnover Continues Under Trump

Nikki Haley, Rex Tillerson, Gary Cohn, Hope Hicks and Jeff Sessions. Photos: Getty Images.

Share this trending news with friends

The Trump White House had more first-year departures than any other president in at least 40 years. The high-profile departures continue while 31 U.S Ambassador posts remain vacant in key countries including Australia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan and more.

Though some turnover should be expected in any administration, the first term revolving door of Trump’s highest Cabinet officials and the extended vacancies in the State Department is highly abnormal.

Nearly two years into the Trump administration, over two dozen ambassador posts remain unfilled and without a nominee—including the ambassador positions in both Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

That staffing gap issue resurfaced in the past week when Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi—who is also a U.S. resident—went missing in Turkey amid reports that he was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Though the U.S. embassies in both countries have diplomatic staff, the absence of an ambassador has implications on the work diplomats do and could send a message that the United States is not fully engaged.

The issue of unfilled posts has sparked a fierce war of words between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and some lawmakers on Capitol Hill: Both sides agree they need to bring American diplomacy up to its full fighting force, but they spar over who’s to blame for the shortage.

Pompeo says Senate Democrats are holding up over 60 State Department hires for positions that require presidential nomination and Senate confirmation.

Democrats insist many career diplomats are being confirmed and some other nominees being held up in the Senate are unqualified for the job.

Given how important an ambassador is in negotiating foreign policy at the local level, it does come as quite a surprise that many high-profile countries and key U.S. allies appear on the list of vacancies. In February 2018, Australia, Germany, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia all appear among the long list of nations without a U.S. ambassador. The reason for this trend goes all the way back to the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration when he fired all ambassadors politically appointed by Barack Obama. They were afforded no grace period and had to pack up and leave their offices by midday on January 20, 2017. Since then, Trump’s administration has struggled to fill the empty positions. Even though some progress has been made since last year when China and India had no U.S. ambassadors (meaning half of the world’s population didn’t have one), the president still has a lot of appointments to make.

President Donald Trump’s administration has been also been marked by a series of exits by high-ranking officials. Most recently, the President’s team fired his deputy national security adviser after complaints from the first lady. Before that, it was Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Trump had long criticized for recusing himself from the Russia investigation. Below is a list of the notable Trump orbit firings and resignations and how long staffers, aides, and Cabinet officials lasted.

Here are the list of key staffers and cabinet members who have exited Donald Trump’s administration:

1. Michael Flynn
Title: National Security Adviser
Start date: Jan. 20, 2017
End date: Feb. 13, 2017

2. Sean Spicer
Title: Communications Director, Press Secretary
Start date: Jan. 20, 2017
End date: July 21, 2017

3. Reince Priebus
Title: Chief of Staff
Start date: Jan. 20, 2017
End date: July 23, 2017

4. Anthony Scaramucci
Title: Communications Director
Start date: July 21, 2017
End date: July 31, 2017

5. Steve Bannon
Title: White House Chief Strategist
Start date: Jan. 20, 2017
End date: Aug. 18, 2017

6. Katie Walsh
Title: White House Deputy Chief of Staff
Start date: Jan. 20, 2017
End date: March 30, 2017

7. Michael Dubke
Title: Communications Director
Start date: March 6, 2017
End date: May 30, 2017

8. Sebastian Gorka
Title: Deputy Assistant to the President
Start date: Jan. 20, 2017
End date: Aug. 25, 2017

9. K.T. McFarland
Title: Deputy National Security Adviser
Start date: Jan. 20, 2017
End date: April 9, 2017

10. Tom Price
Title: Secretary of Health and Human Services
Start date: Feb. 10, 2017
End date: Sept. 29, 2017

11. Omarosa Manigault Newman
Title: Communications Director
Start date: Jan. 20, 2017
End date: Dec. 13, 2017

12. James Comey
Title: FBI Director
Start date: Sept. 4, 2013
End date: May 9, 2017

13. Andrew McCabe
Title: Deputy Director of FBI
Start date: Feb. 1, 2016
End date: Jan. 29, 2018

14. Dina Powell
Title: Deputy National Security Adviser
Start date: Jan. 18, 2017
End date: Jan. 12, 2018

15. Walter Shaub
Title: Director of the Office of Government Ethics
Start date: Jan. 9, 2013
End date: July 19, 2017

16. Angella Reid
Title: Chief Usher
Start date: Oct. 4, 2011
End date: May 5, 2017

17. Rob Porter
Title: Staff Secretary
Start date: Jan. 20, 2017
End date: Feb. 7, 2018

18. Josh Raffel
Title: Senior Communications Official
Start date: April 5, 2017
End date: Feb. 27, 2018

19. Hope Hicks
Title: Director of Strategic Communications, Communications Director
Start date: Jan. 20, 2017
End date: March 29, 2018

20. Gary Cohn
Title: Director of the National Economic Council
Start date: Jan. 20, 2017
End date: April 2, 2018

21. John McEntee
Title: Personal Aide to the President
Start date: Jan. 20, 2017
End date: March 12, 2018

22. Rex Tillerson
Title: Secretary of State
Start date: Jan. 20, 2017
End date: March 13, 2018

23. H.R. McMaster
Title: National Security Adviser
Start date: Feb. 20, 2017
End date: March 22, 2018

24. David Shulkin
Title: Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Start date: Feb. 13, 2017
End date: March 28, 2018

25. Michael Anton
Title: National Security Council Spokesperson
Start date: Feb. 8, 2017
End date: April 8, 2018

26. Tom Bossert
Title: Homeland Security Adviser
Start date: Jan. 20, 2017
End date: April 10, 2018

27. Scott Pruitt
Title: EPA Administrator
Start date: Feb. 17, 2017
End date: July 5, 2018

28. Nikki Haley
Title: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
Start date: Jan. 24, 2017
End date: The end of 2018

29. Jeff Sessions
Title: Attorney General
Start date: Feb. 9, 2017
End date: Nov. 7, 2018

Editor’s note: This is a running list and will continue to be updated with the latest.
– Michael Onas