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The Trump administration is allegedly cracking down on disloyal State Department officials

Matt Linden

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The US State Department’s Office of the Inspector General has widened an investigation into alleged political retaliation by Trump administration officials against America’s diplomatic corps. It is probing claims that a political appointee in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs has taken action against career officials deemed insufficiently loyal to President Donald Trump, according to at least 10 current and former State Department officials.

The Office of Special Counsel, an independent watchdog that oversees the federal government, is also investigating whether Trump’s political appointees — including Mari Stull, the aforementioned senior advisor in the international organization bureau — are carrying out political reprisals against career officials, according to two State Department officials familiar with the matter. The inspector general is also investigating allegations that Stull hurled homophobic slurs at a State Department staffer.

The disclosure comes several weeks after House and Senate Democrats opened their own inquiries, requesting emails and documents detailing the activities of Stull, who has allegedly vetted career diplomats and US citizens employed by international organizations to determine their commitment to the president’s political agenda. The State Department has not complied with the document request.

Nearly all of the senior career officials, including Erin Barclay and Molly Phee, have left the international organization affairs bureau amid plunging morale. At least five other career diplomats have taken the unusual step of “curtailing” their job in the bureau, a way to cut short an assignment that is typically reserved for diplomats overseas with medical issues.

Another career diplomat went on leave without pay “because they were just so miserable,” one official familiar with the matter said. One senior State Department official noted that the bureau’s exiles now refer to themselves as “refugees” in the new bureaus that have taken them on.

“People are leaving [the Bureau of International Organization Affairs] left and right,” said another official. “The level of talent that the bureau has lost, it’s deep.”

A top diplomat, Doug Griffiths, has just started as the principal deputy assistant secretary — the seniormost career diplomat in the bureau. “This entire bureau is placing a huge burden of hope on his shoulders in hoping he can fix everything,” the official said, but added that they weren’t hopeful an internal investigation would bring about change or force out Stull, given her political support.

“There aren’t going to be consequences for her, and she knows that, and so do other people.”

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