In late January, The Washington Post reported that the State Department was undergoing a “mass exodus” of senior officials, claiming it was because they “don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.”
While that story — perhaps viewed by critics as a sign that the Trump administration was doomed to fail — quickly went viral, it soon emerged that the report had been grossly exaggerated and that only four officials had resigned in what was described as “a normal feature of a transition.”
As CBS News reports, however, it seems that a “mass exodus” has now actually begun in new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's department, but this one comes in the form of a particular set of mass firings.
Specifically, the firings targeted much of the State Department's powerful seventh floor, which houses the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices.
This floor — which notoriously labeled itself a “shadow government” — was recently embroiled in the Clinton email server scandal under former Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick F. Kennedy.
In October, Kennedy was allegedly caught offering the FBI a “quid pro quo” deal asking agents to minimize “the classified nature of the Clinton emails in order to protect State interests and those of Clinton.”
While Kennedy was among the four State officials who resigned in January, the clearing out of his former colleagues is being viewed as an “important sign to the rest of the diplomatic corps that their new boss [Secretary Tillerson] has different priorities than the last one.”
The news of the firings also comes on the heels of President Trump blaming the numerous leaks that have plagued his administration on the fact that he's been blocked from getting his “own people” appointed:
That same idea was echoed by State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond, who told CBS News that the recent firings were connected to an effort “to build out our team”:
"As part of the transition from one administration to the next we continue to build out our team.
The State Department is supported by a very talented group of individuals, both Republicans and Democrats. We are appreciative to any American who dedicates their talents to public service."
While it remains to be seen who exactly Tillerson will appoint to replace the apparently now vacant seventh floor, the clearing out of a self-described “shadow government” certainly seems a strong step toward Trump's vow to “drain the swamp” of Washington.