‘Unprecedented!’ Trump orders all Obama’s ambassadors to leave foreign posts by Inauguration Day

President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team is requiring all politically appointed ambassadors to leave their overseas posts by Inauguration Day.

The unprecedented order was issued “without exceptions,” by the State Department on Dec. 23,  according to diplomats who saw it, the New York Times reported.

The mandate breaks with decades of precedent where past administrations have granted extensions on a case-by-case basis to allow diplomats to secure other living arrangements or leave their children in schools.

The Times reported:

A senior Trump transition official said there was no ill will in the move, describing it as a simple matter of ensuring that Mr. Obama’s overseas appointees leave the government on schedule, just as thousands of political aides at the White House and in federal agencies must do. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about internal deliberations, said the ambassadors should not be surprised about being held to a hard end date.

With the short notice, many of the ambassadors are now scrambling to find places to live in their respective countries or back in the U.S.

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“When you have people out there whose only reason for being an ambassador is their political connection to the outgoing president of a different party, it’s pretty logical to say they should leave,” Ronald Neumann, the president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, a Washington-based nonprofit association for former ambassadors and senior diplomats, said according to the Times. “But I don’t recollect there was ever a guillotine in January where it was just, ‘Everybody out of the pool immediately.’”

While career diplomats tend to retain their posts through presidential transitions, many political ambassadors vacate their positions at the end of the president’s term because they are donors who were nominated due to close ties with the president.

With the sometimes lengthy process of Senate confirmation of new diplomats, Trump’s order could leave the U.S. without representatives in key countries like Germany and Britain for months, according to the Times.

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Many ambassadors are considering appealing the decision with Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson.

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Frieda Powers


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