Friday, May 4, 2018

Pompeo faces a hiring obstacle course

Nahal Toosi, Politico

The new secretary of state may not see many key diplomatic posts filled before mid-2019.

Image from article, with caption: Mike Pompeo manages a State Department with more than 70 vacancies. And like his ousted predecessor, Rex Tillerson, he faces major obstacles in filling them. But he has one advantage: a strong personal relationship with President Donald Trump. |

Having secured his own job as secretary of state, Mike Pompeo faces a tough new question: Who can he get to work for him?

Pompeo has inherited an unusual number of vacancies at Foggy Bottom and U.S. embassies and has promised to fill them quickly. Some names are already circulating for the more than 70 positions now open. But, like his ousted predecessor, Rex Tillerson, Pompeo faces major obstacles.

One is that the White House has blackballed dozens of Republican foreign affairs experts who signed “Never Trump” letters in 2016 or who otherwise criticized President Donald Trump.

Many other conservatives may simply not wish to join the administration or are unqualified for the available positions. The Foreign Service also is pressing Pompeo to choose career diplomats whenever possible, especially for sensitive ambassadorships.

Combine those factors with a slow-grinding Senate confirmation process, and it could be another year before Pompeo’s department is fully staffed — leaving voids in U.S. diplomatic leadership at a time of tumult in the Middle East, Europe and beyond. ...

But Pompeo has one advantage: a strong personal relationship with Trump. That means that he might be able to sneak through some hires that his predecessor never could. ...

Among the open State positions: undersecretaries for political affairs and public diplomacy [JB emphasis] and the assistant secretaries for South Asia and Africa. A slew of ambassadorships also sit empty, including ones for Turkey and Saudi Arabia. ...

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