A former diplomat says Trump officials wouldn't let her talk about Obama's foreign policies

Rex TillersonSpencer Platt/Getty ImagesSecretary of State Rex Tillerson.
  • A former Foreign Service worker says Trump administration officials told her to not mention Obama’s foreign policies.
  • Diplomats and State Department officials have complained of a massive restructuring of how the nation’s top diplomatic agency conducts business.
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has denied that he is trying to dismantle the Foreign Service.

A former US diplomat who resigned earlier this year in protest of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s leadership said Trump administration officials wouldn’t let her teach new Foreign Service workers about foreign polices under former President Barack Obama.

Nancy McEldowney, who started her career in government under former President Ronald Reagan, said that she was told to “make no reference to the policies of the prior administration.”

“We were told that memos that would go forward could not reference the polices of the Obama administration,” she said in The New York Times’s Daily podcast on Friday.

From 2013 until her resignation this year in June, McEldowney was the director of the Foreign Service Institute, the federal agency responsible for training Foreign Service workers and diplomats before they serve abroad.

When Tillerson assumed office, McEldowney says she was no longer able to hire people even for positions that were vacant or transfer people within the organisation. She was also told to stop distributing materials as part of the Foreign Service education curriculum that made any mention to Obama-era policy.

“There was a political appointee sent out to the Foreign Service Institute who reviewed our training materials and objected when there was reference to American foreign policy under the Obama administration,” she said.

McEldowney sensed that these efforts were part of a broader attempt “to state that history started on the day the Trump administration walked into office.”

Other diplomats have also expressed frustration with controversial changes at the State Department. More than 300 officials left following Tillerson’s takeover, and hundreds more senior positions remain unfilled. Tillerson has also supported massive budget cuts and reshaped the department’s management.

Tillerson has rejected claims that he is trying to dismantle the Foreign Service and says he appreciates the expertise of people who serve in the department.

“I have just the utmost respect for the Foreign Service officer corps here, and they’re vital,” Tillerson told The New York Times earlier this month. “They’re vital and critical to the country’s ability to carry out its foreign policies.”

He added that he was “mystified” by the perception that he wanted to gut the Foreign Service.

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