There’s little doubt, if you watched any part of the impeachment inquisition the first thing that perhaps caught your attention, was the total disconnect between those ambassadors testifying and the White House.
Certainly these weren’t individuals who supported the President personally or for that matter agreed with his Ukrainian policy. In fact, Ambassador Bill Taylor seemed to go out of his way to undermine the President.
No doubt we wondered why would an ambassador within the administration attempt to discredit the President? Then it dawned on me, that Bill Taylor and Marie Yovanovitch aren’t President Trump’s ambassadors, they’re Obama holdovers.
That mind boggling reality, that after three years into his presidency, nearly a quarter of embassy slots are still vacant, because Senate Democrats are purposely slow-walking each of the President’s nominees, is simply the latest example of how Democrats have intentionally obstructed this White House.
Nearly 200 embassies around the world have vacant ambassadorships, leaving foreign policy in the hands of career Foreign Service bureaucrats like Taylor.
Even countries as significant as Japan, Russia and Canada are being run in many cases by Obama operatives.
Taylor, a career State Department official and former staffer for Democratic Sen. Bill Bradley, is currently the top American in Ukraine by default.
He acknowledged he accepted the job because he “didn’t trust” President Donald Trump and felt it was “critical” that after Marie Yovanovitch, the Obama holdover who preceded him, “was so was so badly treated that it was a senior person out there badly treated.”
Yovanovitch became the poster gal for emotionally fragile career diplomats suddenly unable to cope with being replaced.
She became ambassador to Ukraine on Aug. 18, 2016, only months before Obama left office, and was not recalled until May 20, 2019, nearly two and a half years into the Trump administration, amidst allegations that she was undermining the President.
Yovanovitch defied instructions from the State Department not to testify before Congress Oct. 11.
The group of holdover career ambassadors includes the likes of Catherine Ebert-Gray, the ambassador to Papua New Guinea. When the Obama-nominated bureaucrat was sworn into office in 2016, she boasted of her politics. Wisconsin “is such a progressive state,” she said, citing “Midwest values.” She added: “You can take a girl out of Wisconsin but you can’t take the Wisconsin out of a girl.”
The President has blasted Democrats for obstructing his nominations and has urged the Senate numerous times to move the process along.
“The Democrats continue to obstruct the confirmation of hundreds of good and talented people who are needed to run our government…A record in U.S. history. State Department, Ambassadors and many others are being slow-walked. Senate must approve NOW!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 11, 2018
Countries where Obama had a political appointee, but where vacancies now leave career bureaucrats in charge, include the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Japan, Malta, Morocco, Russia, Singapore, and Tanzania.
However the President in an October 2017 interview with Forbes Magazine suggested an understaffed bureaucracy might be more of a feature rather than a defect of his administration stating, “I’m generally not going to make a lot of the appointments that would normally be, because you don’t need them.”
Adding, “I mean, you look at some of these agencies, how massive they are, and it’s totally unnecessary. They have hundreds of thousands of people.”
Burdett Loomis, a political science professor at the University of Kansas, said whether Trump wants to fill out his ranks is a central question.
“Trump doesn’t necessarily believe in government, hence less pressure to fill slots,”
Loomis continued, “He was slow out of the gate, and his vetting was poor due to poor planning and a poorly run Office of Presidential Personnel,”
Adding, “The President’s missteps early meant that he was always going to play catch up. One of Trump’s first acts as President was to ignore Democratic Party input and push through several controversial cabinet nominees as well as Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court.
“While President Trump broke no rules in doing so, these actions made Democrats in the Senate far less interested in working with the administration on future nominations.”