Although it in no way advanced Democrats’ case for impeachment — former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch acknowledged early in cross-examination that she had no knowledge of Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian Pres. Zelensky — her appearance as a character witness scored style points for the pro-impeachment crowd.
The circumstances of Yovanovitch’s ouster made for good political theater. Trump had called her “bad news” and summarily fired her, which facts the Democrats made much of during yesterday’s hearings.
They scored less mileage when they attempted to posit that Trump had done something out of the ordinary by firing a member of the diplomatic corps “without cause.”
The argument that Trump did something unprecedented may come to bite the Democrats when they are reminded of this news item, which ran in the Washington Post on Dec. 3, 2008. The author is the paper’s “fact checker,” Glenn Kessler, so you can bet it’s accurate.
The incoming Obama administration has notified all politically-appointed ambassadors that they must vacate their posts as of Jan. 20, the day President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath of office, a State Department official said.
The clean slate will open up prime opportunities for the president-elect to reward political supporters with posts in London, Paris, Tokyo and the like. The notice to diplomatic posts was issued this week.
Political ambassadors sometimes are permitted to stay on briefly during a new administration, but the sweeping nature of the directive suggests that Obama has little interest in retaining any of Bush’s ambassadorial appointees.
Most ambassadors, of course, are foreign service officers, but often the posts involving the most important bilateral relations (such as with Great Britain, Japan and India) or desirable locales (such as the Bahamas) are given to close friends and well-heeled contributors of the president.
Evidently, Donald Trump’s mistakes were two-fold. First, he should have cleaned house in precisely the same way Obama did. Second, he should have filled the posts with “close friends and well-heeled contributors.”
Democrats wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.