Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified publicly Friday in the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, and Democrats could barely contain their outrage about the fact that President Donald Trump recalled her from her post in May of this year.
The narrative put forward by Democrats and the media was that Trump’s removal of Yovanovitch was a controversial and unprecedented event, despite the fact that virtually all prior presidents — including Barack Obama — have done the same and more in the past, often in a much quicker fashion, Breitbart reported.
Obama’s diplomatic house cleaning
Indeed, prior to Obama even being sworn into office for his first term as president, a notice was issued to every single ambassador that they were expected to submit their resignations to be effective by inauguration day.
The Washington Post reported in December of 2008 that the State Department had notified “all politically-appointed ambassadors” that they were expected to vacate their posts no later than Jan. 20, 2009. This was done in order to grant the incoming Obama administration a “clean slate” so it could appoint and “reward political supporters” with postings to prime ambassadorships, such as major allied nations or choice locations like the Bahamas.
The Post noted that “Political ambassadors sometimes are permitted to stay on briefly during a new administration, but the sweeping nature of the directive suggests that Obama has little interest in retaining any of Bush’s ambassadorial appointees.”
The paper further noted that while many ambassadors were career diplomatic officials, a substantial portion — again, largely for the choicest postings — were “close friends and well-heeled contributors.”
Newsmax reported at the time that all of this was considered fairly routine, even as 170 diplomats were ordered to tender their resignations. Of those 170 officials, roughly one-third of them were political appointees while the rest were career diplomats in the foreign service.
“The message was something that is normally sent out (after every election every four years) by the State Department at the request of the White House,” an anonymous State Department official explained. “It’s a normal procedure for ambassadors, career and non-career, to submit their resignations. And what happens is that all of them do.”
In line with the reporting from the Post, the anonymous official added that it was also routine that most career diplomats would be told they could remain in place, and even some of the political appointees would be granted a temporary extension — “on a case-by-case basis.”
Glaring double standard
Breitbart noted that in 2016, just like his predecessors, then-President-elect Trump similarly sent notice to all of the ambassadors and diplomats ordering their resignations. However, unlike in the past, this time the routine action was described by the media as being controversial and, with the backing of career State Department officials, many ambassadors remained in their posts.
Ambassador Yovanovitch, who had just been appointed by Obama and confirmed by the Senate to the Ukraine post in 2016, was one of those who stayed. It wasn’t until May of 2019 that she was finally ordered back to Washington, D.C.
Perhaps standing firm on the removal of old diplomats in favor of his own selections wasn’t one of Trump’s top priorities — the president has had a rather full plate and has faced tremendous resistance to his appointees from Deep State bureaucrats as well as Congress — but it has become clear that he needs to disregard this type of manufactured outrage and perform the same house cleaning as all of his Oval Office predecessors.