Trump won’t give grace period to Obama’s ambassadors

Washington, Jan 6 (IANS) US President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has decided not to let American ambassadors who are political appointees of President Barack Obama stay on for a grace period beyond Inauguration Day, a source has confirmed.

The decision has left some of the diplomats, who represent the US in countries such as Britain, Saudi Arabia and Japan, scrambling to figure out new living arrangements, visa rules and what options they have for their children’s schooling.

It also could mean some top US embassies are left without an ambassador for months as Trump finds his footing, the source said on Thursday.

In typical presidential transitions, politically appointed ambassadors have at times been allowed to stay on the job for weeks or months after the new President has taken office, Politico reported.

Following tradition, President Obama has directed all political appointees in his Democratic administration to submit their resignations effective on Inauguration Day, January 20, making room for Trump’s appointees.

When asked about ambassadors requesting extensions, the Trump transition team informed the State Department that it was not making any exceptions, an official told Politico.

The department began sending cables at least as early as December 21, 2016, to individual ambassadors telling them that they would have to quit their posts on time.

During his two terms, Obama named hundreds of people to the posts, roughly 30 per cent of whom are political appointees, which generally require Senate confirmation. That figure is roughly in line with other Presidents in recent decades.

In the absence of the ambassadors who now must leave by January 20, the affected US embassies will likely be run by the highest-ranking career employee until Trump nominates someone new and that person is confirmed by the Senate.

The process could take months.