Anthony Gardner, the former U.S. ambassador to the EU, urged President-elect Joe Biden and his transition team to issue an order ousting President Donald Trump’s ambassadors on January 20 — just as Trump on his own Inauguration Day dismissed all of Barack Obama’s diplomats.
“Exactly 4 years ago I received telegram from incoming Trump team to vacate on Jan 20,’” Gardner tweeted Sunday. “Time for similar telegram to go out now: all Trump politically appointed ambassadors to leave Jan 20.”
Trump broke with longstanding practice by ordering all of Obama’s politically appointed ambassadors out of their posts immediately rather than permitting them a grace period of weeks, or months, while replacements were appointed and confirmed in the Senate. Trump’s move left some diplomats scrambling to make alternate living arrangements, and to avoid disruptions to their children’s schooling.
Trump’s departure from normal practice proved especially disruptive because he was slow to nominate ambassadors, and confirmation votes were often delayed in the Senate, for bureaucratic or political reasons.
Gardner, whose father was a renowned law professor and former U.S. ambassador to Italy, served as director for European affairs on the National Security Council during the Bill Clinton administration, and had a career in law and private equity. Gardner was the point-man in Europe for Biden’s presidential campaign, and is well-connected to the incoming administration. His family friendship with Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, dates back more than 50 years.
Gardner had offered some unusually pointed words upon his departure, urging his successor and the new Trump administration not to root for the EU’s demise.
In his tweet on Sunday, Gardner noted that Trump’s choice for ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, had been fired after becoming embroiled in Trump’s impeachment scandal. “Sondland already disgraced and went home,” Gardner wrote. “Time to send qualified people to important posts.”
Typically, incoming U.S. presidents have allowed politically appointed ambassadors to remain in their posts, both as a courtesy but also as a way of maintaining continuity as the nomination and confirmation process can take months.
Trump’s ambassador to Belgium, Ronald Gidwitz, who is also now serving as acting ambassador to the EU, said in an interview with POLITICO in September that he would be willing to stay on in those posts, as long as requested, for Trump or for a new president.
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