Donald Trump 'orders Barack Obama's ambassadors to resign posts' in unprecedented move

The move risks leaving the US without envoys in key countries like Britain, Germany and Canada

Click to follow
The Independent US

Donald Trump has yet again proved that he is intent on ripping up the diplomatic rule book.

In an unprecedented move, the President-elect’s team are reported to have demanded ambassadors appointed by Barack Obama to leave their overseas posts by Inauguration Day on 20 January. The decision to provide no grace period for politically appointed ambassadors marks a significant break with decades of tradition.

The move risks leaving the US without envoys in key countries like Britain, Germany and Canada for months. It also means ambassador’s families have been forced to find places to live in America or their respective countries with very little notice.

Vice President Joe Biden tells Donald Trump to 'grow up'

According to a report in the New York Times, Mr Trump’s transition team issued the mandate “without exceptions” in a State Department order sent to diplomats on 23 December.

A senior Trump transition official anonymously told the publication there was no “ill will” in the decision and it was simply an attempt to ensure Mr Obama’s overseas appointees left the government on time.

Ambassadors are said to be thinking about appealing the decision with Rex Tillerson, the billionaire property developer’s nominee for Secretary of State. 

Some envoys are said to have voiced their shock that First-Lady-in-waiting Melania Trump has been allowed to take the unusual step of remaining at their Trump Tower home in New York so their 10-year-old son Barron can finish the school year, while their personal lives have been disrupted.

Prior to the rigid timeline which is said to have been introduced, ambassadors had the option of requesting to extend their term. Republican and Democrat administrations allowed extensions on a discretionary individual by individual basis, with allowances sometimes being made for those with children at school.

So far, Mr Trump has only publicly named bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman as ambassador to Israel and Iowa Gov Terry Branstad as his ambassador to China. It is unlikely Mr Trump will have appointed all of his overseas envoys before he is inaugurated.

Mr Trump’s first wife, Ivana Trump, has already expressed her interest in becoming ambassador for the Czech Republic under Mr Trump’s presidency. While there is no proof this will happen, the President of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, expressed his support for her bid, saying: “They could not send a better US ambassador to Prague”.

Ms Trump, who was born in the Czech Republic and is the mother of Ivanka, Donald Trump Jr and Eric, expressed her eagerness for the role in November, saying she would suggest the idea.