The State Department’s deputy secretary and undersecretary admitted last week that they could’ve done more to protect the department’s career officials from the Trump administration’s campaign of political retaliation and harassment.
Foreign Policy reported that Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan had expressed regret over his handling of the issue during a town hall meeting with department employees on August 29, which was held in response to the department’s inspector general’s report on two top political appointees who had targeted career staffers deemed “disloyal” to President Donald Trump.
“I will be the first to admit the failure on my part to have done more to address the situation,” Sullivan said of the report’s findings.
David Hale, the department’s third-ranking official as undersecretary of state for political affairs, promised during the town hall to help staffers who had been punished by the Trump officials to “make amends” and fix any damage those officials had inflicted upon their careers.
“There’s absolutely no doubt that what was going on was completely unacceptable,” Hale said, according to Foreign Policy. “Misconduct is a soft word, frankly, to use for what has occurred.”
However, Sullivan told department staffers that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wouldn’t be firing the two Trump appointees because he doesn’t have the authority to discipline officials who were hired directly by the President.