The State Department under Secretary Rex Tillerson has been locked in a growing power struggle with the White House that has angered officials in the West Wing and sparked claims that the Trump administration’s top diplomatic organ is now in “open war” with the White House on a range of critical issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian impasse, Iran, the crisis with Qatar, and other matters, according to multiple sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the situation.
The State Department is said to be in a state of “massive dysfunction,” with top officials working under Tillerson ignoring White House directives on critical staffing issues and key policy matters, according to multiple sources, including administration allies who are said to be increasingly frustrated with what is perceived as the White House’s inability to control its own federal agencies.
The tensions have fueled an outstanding power battle between the West Wing and State Department that has handicapped the administration and resulted in scores of open positions failing to be filled with Trump confidantes. This has allowed former Obama administration appointees still at the State Department to continue running the show and formulating policy, where they have increasingly clashed with the White House’s own agenda.
The latest flashpoint in this growing civil war is Israel, where a string of terror attacks has sidetracked the Trump administration’s nascent efforts to get the Israelis and Palestinian back to the negotiating table.
Just hours after a Palestinian terrorist murdered several Jewish civilians, the State Department told the Free Beacon that it is not clear what motivates such violent acts. The statement sparked anger within the administration and on Capitol Hill, where many viewed the State Department’s declaration as a sign the agency is openly rebelling against the White House.
“It’s no secret that the State Department is waging an open political war, which includes policy insubordination and press campaigns, against the Trump White House,” according to one veteran foreign policy analyst who regularly briefs the White House and Trump appointees in the State Department.
“Foggy Bottom is still run by the same people who designed and implemented Obama’s Middle East agenda,” the source said. “Tillerson was supposed to clean house, but he left half of them in place and he hid the other half in powerful positions all over the building. These are career staffers committed to preventing Trump from reversing what they created.”
One of the central points of contention between the White House and State Department has been a plethora of agency vacancies that have yet to be filled. The White House is said to have sent many lists of potential candidates for these jobs, but senior aides to Tillerson have ignored the White House and trashed these lists, according to multiple sources.
This has resulted in key State Department positions remaining unfilled, a situation that has only elevated the roles of former Obama administration officials who still work in the department.
“Those lists [of candidates] literally go nowhere,” according to one veteran Republican foreign policy operative familiar with the situation. “It’s like a sham process. And the reason is not because the White House isn’t behaving professionally. It’s because Tillerson isn’t professional at all.”
The situation has impacted morale within the administration and stoked further tensions between President Donald Trump and Tillerson, who has begun to hint that he will quit his post in the near future.
Full article: State Dept. in ‘Open War’ With White House (Washington Free Beacon)