Continuing marking off the checklist of moves cribbed from authoritarian regimes, President Trump has instituted a loyalty test at the State Department, according to Foreign Policy magazine.
Mari Stull, a senior advisor to the State Department appointed just two months ago to her position in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, came to her role after careers as a food and beverage lobbyist and wine blogger.
Stull has been silently checking social media posts of career diplomats and American employees of international institutions to check for signs of ideological deviation and to ascertain if they are loyal to President Trump and to his political agenda, according to nearly a dozen current and former U.S. officials.
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“She is actively making lists and gathering intel,” said one of Foreign Policy’s sources, a senior diplomat.
“She is gunning for American citizens in the U.N. to see if they are toeing the line,” the diplomatic source added.
Stull has been checking on government officials to determine whether they signed off on Obama-era policies — even though signing off does not mean officials personally endorsed them but merely cleared them through the bureaucratic chain.
She has also researched Americans employed by international agencies, including the World Health Organization and the United Nations, interviewing their colleagues as to when they were hired and by whom, officials said.
The effect of what Stull has been doing, a real “witch hunt” as opposed to what Trump calls the legally sanctioned Mueller probe, is creating morale issues at a State Department already decimated by resignations during the Trump era, leading still more diplomatic professionals to consider leaving the department.
“Her probing, along with a highly secretive management style, has become so uncomfortable that at least three senior officials are poised to leave the bureau, according to the sources. Officials there have warned some Americans employed by the U.N. to sidestep traditional meet-and-greet sessions with the department’s upper management to avoid drawing attention to themselves.”
Stull, whose diplomatic qualifications are non-existent, may be well suited to recommend a decent wine for state dinners after her stint as a wine blogger under the name “Vino Vixen,” but her primary qualification in her new role seems to be her loyalty to the Trump regime.
The news of Stull’s internal spy work at the State Department comes just three months after two Democratic Congressmen, Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Eliot Engel (D-NY), accused the Trump administration of working with conservative activists to purge agency employees seen as disloyal to Trump or supportive of the Obama administration after a whistleblower leaked documents that characterized career officials in “derogatory terms.”
The politicization of the role of State Department’s career employees is an unprecedented attack on the independence and impartiality of bureaucrats who typically perform their jobs objectively no matter which party controls the White House. However, with Trump already having politicized the Justice Department with his firing of 93 U.S. Attorneys associated with the Obama administration, and his attacks on the media as “fake news,” the steps towards authoritarianism are moving quickly.
The next and biggest sign of the retreat from democracy to a completely totalitarian state will come when, and hopefully if, Trump tries to politicize the military. At that point, the death knell for democracy will be ringing loudly.
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