In what appears to be an effort to clean house at the State Department, emails obtained by House Democrats show that top officials in the Trump administration worked to purge career civil servants who were deemed "insufficiently loyal" to President Donald Trump and his agenda.
The accusation is based on documents leaked by an unnamed whistleblower, which appear to show high-ranking officials and advisors discussing a politically-motivated “cleaning.” “Over the year we have heard many reports of political attacks on career employees at the State Department, but we had not seen evidence of how extensive, blunt, and inappropriate these attacks were until now,” write congressmen Elijah Cummings and Eliot Engel write in a March 15 letter. Their letter is addressed to White House chief of staff John Kelly and State Department deputy secretary John J. Sullivan.
The letter references communications between numerous top administration and State Department officials as well as a handful of outside conservative parties, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Barbara Ledeen, and David Wurmser.
"The documents show that these political appointees characterized career State Department employees in derogatory terms, including as "a leaker and troublemaker"; "Turncoat"; "associated with previous policy"; and "Obama/Clinton loyalists not at all supportive of President Trump's foreign policy agenda.""
Referenced specifically is Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, a career civil servant who began under the George W. Bush administration and worked on the Iran nuclear deal.
Nowrouzzadeh is a US-born citizen of Iranian descent; but according to the letter, she was described by White House liaison Julia Haller as having been “born in Iran, and on my understanding cried when the president won.” She was moved out of a top advisory role last April.
In response to questions about the letter, the State Department said it regularly complies with Congressional requests:
The State department “routinely responds to requests by members of Congress. We always work closely and cooperatively with Congress and seek to be as timely and responsive as possible to their requests for information,” a State department official told Quartz.
“I think we’re seeing a pattern across a number of agencies,” Nick Schwellenbach, the Director of Investigations at the Project On Government Oversight, told TPM. “Top political leadership is working to root out people they view as insufficiently loyal to Trump’s agenda. It’s extremely troubling, because federal government employees’ loyalty should be to the Constitution, not to the political masters of the moment.”