Diplomat Criticizes Tillerson’s Leadership in Resignation Letter

An award-winning U.S. diplomat criticized both the Trump administration and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a resignation letter she wrote, saying that under Tillerson the State Department’s influence has diminished, adding that the administration has shown the staff “stinging disrespect.”

The Foreign Service officer, Elizabeth Shackelford cited lowered morale in the department and the abandonment of human rights by the administration as her reasons for leaving.

“I have deep respect for the career Foreign and Civil Service staff who, despite the stinging disrespect this Administration has shown our profession, continue the struggle to keep our foreign policy on the positive trajectory necessary to avert global disaster in increasingly dangerous times,” Shackelford wrote.

She added that the staff’s work seems to be in vain “with each passing day” which pushes an increasing number of them away.

Shackelford’s former colleagues said her resignation letter reflects the sentiments of other diplomats who no longer have confidence in Tillerson’s management and the Trump administration’s views on diplomacy.

“She’s emblematic of what we’re losing across the board. She is the best among us. We should not be losing the best among us. And that should concern people that we are,” a former colleague of hers said.

Shackelford further noted in her letter that she was shocked by the doubt Tillerson cast on human rights importance in comments to department employees made several months ago. She also lamented the lack of influence the State Department is facing both internally and externally due to budget cuts and the fact that vacancies remain unfilled, which she said “is visible every day in Mission Somalia, my current post,” The Hill reports.

The diplomat ended her letter by urging Tillerson to show leadership and “a commitment to our people,” adding that if he were unable to do so effectively he should also resign.

Lawmakers and former senior diplomats recently criticized Tillerson for dismantling the State Department and imposing a hiring freeze, but he claimed the number of people leaving the department was misrepresented by the media.

“What it’s done was just a little bit of a blunt instrument to have everyone be a little more disciplined about filling their positions,” Tillerson said, pointing out that in “redesigning” the State Department he prioritized the staff’s well-being.

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