Tuesday 12 December 2017

All US foreign ambassadors fired with 'no exceptions' on Inauguration Day - but no replacements lined up

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk along the Inauguration Day parade route after being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington. REUTERS/Evan Vucci-Pool
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk along the Inauguration Day parade route after being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington. REUTERS/Evan Vucci-Pool
Ivanka Trump (L) and Donald Trump, Jr. arrive on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. January 20, 2017. REUTERS\Win McNamee\Pool
Melania Trump arrives on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. REUTERS/Win McNamee/Pool
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attend the Freedom Ball in honor of his inauguration in Washington, U.S. January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump introduces first lady Melania Trump at the Freedom Ball in honor of his inauguration in Washington, U.S. January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, with Vice President Mike Pence and his wife and the Trump family, attend the Freedom Ball in honor of his inauguration in Washington, U.S. January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump descend the stairs to review troops on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. REUTERS/Michael Heiman/Pool
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk along Pennsylvania Avenue during the inaugural parade from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife first lady Melania Trump arrive at his "Liberty" Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife first lady Melania Trump arrive at his "Liberty" Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
U.S. President Donald Trump introduces his wife, first lady Melania Trump, as they arrive at the Inauguration Freedom Ball in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at the Inauguration Freedom Ball in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Ivanka Trump dances with her husband Jared Kushner at U.S. President Donald Trump's "Liberty" Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Rachael Revesz

Shortly after Donald Trump was sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States, all foreign ambassadors were fired and with no concrete replacement ambassadors lined up.

Mr Trump had demanded that every ambassador in countries all over the world, who had been appointed by former President Barack Obama, were told to leave their offices by midday on 20 January and with no grace period.

His transition team had said on 23 December there would be “no exceptions” for ambassadors requesting to extend their postings past Inauguration day, in contrast with other Presidents, even for ambassadors with young children.

It is common policy, however, that politically appointed ambassadors resign at the start of a new administration. It is less common to have no replacements in line.

Ivanka Trump (L) and Donald Trump, Jr. arrive on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. January 20, 2017. REUTERS\Win McNamee\Pool
Ivanka Trump (L) and Donald Trump, Jr. arrive on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. January 20, 2017. REUTERS\Win McNamee\Pool

As many as 80 ambassadors for countries, agencies and issues - such as the ambassador for global women's issues - have been discarded at once.

The move now threatens leaving many countries without Senate-confirmed envoys for months and cutting off a direct line to the President, and some in countries which have sensitive relations to the US.

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attend the Freedom Ball in honor of his inauguration in Washington, U.S. January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attend the Freedom Ball in honor of his inauguration in Washington, U.S. January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

This includes Germany, the UK and Canada, as well as other critical allies. Also, countries such as China, India, Japan and Saudi Arabia will also be looking for replacements.

The process of replacing politically-appointed ambassadors is a lengthy one carried out by Congress.

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk along Pennsylvania Avenue during the inaugural parade from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk along Pennsylvania Avenue during the inaugural parade from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Few appointments have been made so far. South Carolina governor Nikki Hayley is ambassador to the United Nations, replacing Samantha Power.

Bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman is ambassador to Israel and Iowa Gov Terry Branstad is ambassador to China.

Ivanka Trump dances with her husband Jared Kushner at U.S. President Donald Trump's
Ivanka Trump dances with her husband Jared Kushner at U.S. President Donald Trump's "Liberty" Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Mr Trump’s first wife, Ivana Trump, has reportedly expressed her interest in becoming ambassador for the Czech Republic. The President of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, expressed his support, saying: "They could not send a better US ambassador to Prague".

Mr Trump has been criticised for various other major staffing gaps, below cabinet level. The National Security Council and the state department of defence remain mostly unfilled.

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