The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump appointee at U.S. foreign aid agency out after minimizing Capitol riot

Tim Meisburger, a mid-level appointee at USAID, will be ‘away from the office until further notice,’ staffers were told.

The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C., is home to the U.S. Agency for International Development. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

The Trump appointee at America’s top foreign aid agency who minimized last week’s riots at the Capitol in remarks to employees on Tuesday will no longer be at the agency “until further notice,” according to an internal memo sent on Wednesday and obtained by The Washington Post.

Tim Meisburger, a deputy assistant administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Development, Democracy and Innovation, told staff during a video call on Tuesday that the riots at the Capitol last week were the work of “a few violent people” and that “several million” others were protesting peacefully for electoral reform.

Audio of departing Trump appointee describes Capitol riot as largely peaceful, led by ‘a few violent people’

Meisburger’s description of the Capitol riots is contradicted by multiple videos, which show scores of people pushing their way into the building and attacking several police officers, including one who was beaten with a flagpole. More than 60 people have been arrested in connection to the storming of the Capitol. Five people died, and 56 Washington, D.C., police officers were injured.

On Wednesday, USAID staffers received a short memo telling them that Meisburger would be “away from the office until further notice,” according to an internal message obtained by The Post. The memo went out to all USAID staffers. Filling Meisburger’s role on an acting basis and effective immediately is Donald Chisholm, a career Foreign Service officer at USAID.

In addition, Rick Guy, Meisburger’s deputy and USAID’s acting director for democracy, rights and governance, will also be away indefinitely, staffers learned in the notice. On Tuesday afternoon, Guy, who is also a Trump appointee, wrote a lengthy email to USAID officials repeating false claims of election fraud in Georgia and accusing the news media, election officials and a voting machine company of working to steal an electoral victory from President Trump. Guy’s email to staffers, which was obtained by The Post, was first reported by Devex.

A USAID spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment, including questions on whether Meisburger and Guy had been fired. Meisburger and Guy also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.