The steady departure of senior officials at the State Department is continuing, as two assistant secretaries of state are stepping down next week.
The impending losses of Daniel Russel, assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, assistant secretary of African affairs, leave only a handful of career diplomats who were holdovers from the Obama administration among the cadre of senior State Department officials.
Most of the assistant and undersecretaries were political appointees. Following tradition, they all offered their resignations after the election. In the past, many stayed on until a successor was named. The Trump administration accepted all their resignations, however, and the White House and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have not named any replacements. Instead, their jobs are being done by deputies filling in temporarily, contributing to a sense of drift in Foggy Bottom.
Russel and Thomas-Greenfield are not resigning from the government; they are taking State Department-related jobs not actually at the State Department.
Russel, whose last day will be Wednesday, is taking a one-year assignment as a diplomat in residence and senior fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute, based in New York. His deputy, Susan Thornton, will be acting assistant secretary.
Thomas-Greenfield, whose last day is Friday, will become a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. Her deputy, Peter Barlerin, becomes the acting assistant secretary.
Among the few career diplomats who remain in place as assistant secretaries is William Brownfield, who heads the bureau of international narcotics and law enforcement.
On Thursday, he was not saying whether he intends to stay, giving instead a carefully diplomatic answer.
“I am in the job for which I was confirmed by the United States Senate in the year 2011 and will remain here until I no longer am in this job,” he said.