Since election day on November 3rd three top officials have departed the Trump administration, and one other was demoted. All resignations were described as ‘sudden’ and unexpected, suggesting there could be more to come.
While there’s no significant evidence they were directly related to the election, it caused some media outlets to begin speculating that “a last-minute shake up” was on the immediate horizon, also as rumors persisted last week that Trump was set to fire CIA Director Gina Haspel as well as Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
Either some didn’t want to serve in what was a possible four more years of the Trump administration, or alternately knowing that Trump was not going to concede in the event of defeat perhaps didn’t want to stick around for the spectacle of Trump digging in for the legal fight.
Below is a quick rundown of the latest administration departures in order of their exit.
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James Jeffrey, US Special Envoy for Syria Engagement and the Global Coalition To Defeat ISIS
On Saturday a top State Department official appointed directly by the White House who oversees engagement with Middle East countries in the Levant announced that he is retiring. James Jeffrey, who for the past two years has been US Special Envoy for Syria Engagement and the Special Envoy to the Global Coalition To Defeat ISIS, is stepping down.
The 74-year old career diplomat took over the post after the resignation of Brett McGurk. Jeffrey has been criticized as being too pro-Turkish and is seen as a Syria hawk, being among past foremost voices desiring regime change in Syria. Pro-Kurdish lobbying groups further see him as too much in Erdogan’s pocket.
Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
On Friday, Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the official who oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile unexpectedly resigned, or as Bloomberg White House correspondent Jenifer Jacobs reported, it appears she was pushed out.
Lisa Gordon-Hagerty was been head of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) since 2018, the first woman to ever serve in that position, which is a semi-autonomous arm of Department of Energy (DOE) charged with overseeing the safety and security of America’s nuclear weapons.
Few details were confirmed by DOE as to the reasons behind the sudden resignation, though as Bloomberg’s Jacobs noted it remains that “some admin officials are unhappy politics are being played with semi-autonomous arm of Energy Dept.”
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Bonnie Glick, Deputy Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development
And further deputy administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Bonnie Glick was pushed out Friday. Her post is the second highest at USAID which she held from 2019 through 2020.
CNN noted that “Glick’s removal from the deputy administrator post came the same day that John Barsa’s term as acting administrator of the agency expires under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, and sources believe that she was fired so he could remain at the helm.”
The administration subsequently confirmed that USAID has named Barsa to her now-vacant post. “[The] President has designated Mr. Barsa as the Acting Deputy Administrator of USAID, and he will begin those duties this evening and continue to lead the Agency in this new capacity,” USAID indicated Friday.
Neil Chatterjee, Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Also Thursday Trump demoted the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Neil Chatterjee.
According to MSN Chatterjee “may have been demoted because of his support for clean energy”:
“I knew when I embarked on this path that there could be blowback,” he told CNN on Friday. “I’m speculating, but if in fact this demotion is the result of blowback, I’m completely at peace with it. I did the right thing. I’m proud of it. I slept great last night.”
But the biggest departures could come soon this week, given the past rocky relationship between Trump and key defense and intelligence chiefs, namely Haspel and Esper.