11:16 GMT +313 December 2019
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    Rex Tillerson, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil, smiles during his testimony before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be U.S. secretary of state in Washington, U.S. January 11, 2017

    Big Cleanup at State: Tillerson Firing Staffers in Troves

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    Aides to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson purged approximately two dozen State Department staffers on Thursday, in a shakeup that has many officials on edge, fearing that a major restructuring is imminent.

    While Tillerson was away on his first overseas trip as Secretary of State attending the G20 in Bonn, Germany, his aides alerted much of the staff working for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices that their services were no longer needed.

    Career officials are now extremely worried about their jobs, particularly given how abruptly the firings happened; before assignments had been finished by staffers or any replacements had been hired.

    “Inside the State Department, some officials fear that this is a politically-minded purge that cuts out much-needed expertise from the policy-making, rather than simply reorganizing the bureaucracy,” CBS News reported.

    The staffers who were let go act as a conduit between the Secretary and county bureaus.

    “It is irresponsible to let qualified, nonpartisan, experienced people go before you have any idea of their replacement. You can’t do foreign policy by sitting in the White House, just out of your back pocket,” Tom Countryman, Former Assistant Secretary for Non-Proliferation, who was let go earlier this month, told CBS.

    Many of the people who lost their jobs will reportedly be reassigned to other positions within the department.

    “The State Department is made up of a corps of very talented public servants. In some cases, we are redeploying people to new assignments where they can immediately put their talents to work,” R.C. Hammond, a State Department spokesman now serving as a top communications adviser to Tillerson, said Friday morning.

    Last month, many top management leaders resigned in protest from the State Department, leaving a much smaller staff to support the office of America’s top diplomat.

    A Deputy Secretary of State has also not been named, after Tillerson’s top choice, Elliot Abrams, was rejected by Trump due to harsh comments Abrams made about Trump during the election season.

    Tom Shannon, who served as acting secretary before Tillerson was confirmed, is currently serving as the acting deputy secretary.


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    State Department, Secretary of State, Tom Shannon, Donald Trump, Rex Tillerson, Washington, DC
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