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President Donald Trump this week signed off on promotions for a batch of senior U.S. diplomats together with George Kent, a State Division official who turned a key witness within the president’s impeachment trial, officers conversant in the matter informed Overseas Coverage. 

Whereas many officers drawn into the impeachment investigation resigned or have been pressured out of workplace, together with prime diplomats, Kent has stored his job as deputy assistant secretary of state within the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. Kent’s job standing and promotion have been seen by some diplomats as a bellwether for the way far political retaliation would go contained in the State Division within the aftermath of impeachment. 

Kent and a gaggle of different diplomats have been first beneficial by the State Division for promotions within the ranks of the senior international service final summer time, months earlier than the Home-led impeachment investigation started. The promotion checklist that included Kent was despatched to the White Home in the course of the fall, when the impeachment investigation started ramping up. The checklist remained within the White Home’s fingers for months with out shifting to the Senate for affirmation votes, a number of officers informed Overseas Coverage. The Senate authorized the checklist in June, and the president signed off on the promotions this week, the officers stated. 

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Kent’s promotion comes the identical week that one other star witness within the impeachment trial, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, resigned after a 21-year profession within the Military following a “marketing campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation,” in line with his lawyer. Vindman was sacked from his job on the Nationwide Safety Council after testifying within the trial in regards to the president’s efforts to dam navy assist to Ukraine until the nation agreed to research Trump’s Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Many profession diplomats have been angered when senior administration officers—together with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—did nothing to defend civil servants from political assaults after they have been thrust into the impeachment highlight, together with former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was ousted from her job following a smear marketing campaign by the president’s associates. These diplomats, together with colleagues of Kent who spoke to Overseas Coverage, feared that his profession could be upended earlier than studying of his promotion.

“That is excellent news—it suggests a sure normality in State Division promotion procedures, regardless of all of the peculiarities final fall,” stated John Herbst, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. “An excellent officer obtained a well-deserved promotion, which is the way it’s purported to work.”

Remembered for his signature bow tie in addition to his sober testimony, Kent emerged as a vital witness in the course of the impeachment hearings. A profession international service officer with a deep understanding of Ukraine, Kent was capable of give a long-lens view on U.S. international coverage towards Kyiv and the way it was undermined by Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and his allies as they sought to unearth compromising info on Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian power firm whereas his father was vp. 

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“It was surprising, and most unlucky, to observe some People—together with those that allied themselves with corrupt Ukrainians in pursuit of personal agendas—launch assaults on devoted public servants advancing U.S. pursuits in Ukraine,” Kent stated in his testimony. “For my part, these assaults undermined U.S. and Ukrainian nationwide pursuits and broken our important bilateral relationship.”

Kent, like the opposite sitting authorities officers who testified within the impeachment trial, was compelled to take action by congressional subpoena. Trump was acquitted of all prices of abuse of energy and obstruction of Congress on principally partisan strains in early February.

Promotions within the senior international service require approvals from State Division promotion boards, then presidential nomination and Senate affirmation. State Division officers described selling batches of senior international service officers as a largely professional forma course of, with out the scrutiny or rigorous political critiques of different presidentially nominated and Senate-confirmed positions equivalent to ambassador posts. It might be extremely uncommon for the White Home to dam promotions inside the senior international service or take officers off the checklist earlier than passing alongside to the Senate, officers stated. 

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However the president broke precedent up to now to take away different officers concerned within the impeachment probe from their posts. Trump sacked the U.S. intelligence group’s inspector common who first reviewed the whistleblower criticism that sparked the impeachment investigation. A number of different key Protection Division officers who expressed concern over the president’s coverage of withholding navy assist to Ukraine have been additionally pressured out of their jobs this yr. Vindman’s brother, additionally a Nationwide Safety Council aide, was faraway from his publish on the White Home the identical day as his brother—days after Trump’s acquittal—regardless of having no function within the impeachment trial. 

Yovanovitch, one other profession international service officer who was ambassador to Ukraine, retired from the State Division after she was pulled from her publish in Kyiv following a smear marketing campaign by associates of the president and compelled to testify within the impeachment trial. Invoice Taylor, a former diplomat pulled again into the service to function appearing ambassador after Yovanovitch left, was additionally faraway from his publish per week forward of his deliberate departure in January, simply earlier than a go to by Pompeo to Kyiv.

The White Home didn’t reply to a request for remark for this story.

The publish Trump Promotes Senior Diplomats, Including Star Impeachment Witness appeared first on Foreign Policy.

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