US State Department officials are increasingly concerned that President-elect Donald Trump will make America a “banana republic” by allowing his adult children to assume the role of freelance ambassadors, a report says.
“It makes us look like we’re some sort of banana republic,” one State Department official told POLITICO in a report published on Tuesday. “This is not the way that grown-up nations do things.” The report did not reveal the name of the official.
State Department employees are very upset that Trump’s children could blur the line between their business affairs and America’s foreign affairs, the report said.
Last month, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, was seen attending a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, creating fears among some circles the president-elect’s family will wield unparalleled influence over his political duties.
One of Trump’s sons reportedly discussed how to resolve the years-old Syrian crisis with pro-Russia figures. In addition, Trump even suggested that his Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, could negotiate talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The report said US diplomats are worried that if Trump allows his children and other relatives to work as informal ambassadors, they could undermine the carefully structured efforts of the Foreign Service.
They are also concerned that other nations could manipulate Trump’s relatives to circumvent trained American diplomats. In addition, they are nervous that even if the incoming president stays away from his business activities, his children’s extensive corporate deals abroad could still undercut US foreign policy.
Some officials are wondering if Trump even realizes America has thousands of trained, and paid diplomats.
“If Trump is going to have his children operating basically outside of any structure, where there is no reporting mechanism, where they’re not saying what they’re doing, where they’re not advancing what is the policy of the United States, then that’s going to be a problem,” said Gerald Feierstein, a former top Middle East official who recently retired from State Department.
Since winning the November 8 election, Trump has held conversations with dozens of foreign leaders reportedly without taking any briefings from the State Department.
Officials were seriously annoyed after Trump spoke with Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen, a move that made him the first US president or president-elect to hold a conversation with a Taiwanese leader since severing ties with the territory in 1979.
The talk angered China and sent a message to State Department diplomats that the president-elect doesn’t care what they think.
On Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry complained that the State Department’s recommendations have no “value” in the eyes of Trump.
Kerry said neither Trump nor his transition team had contacted his department before speaking to leaders of other countries.
“We have not been contacted before any of these conversations. We have not been requested to provide talking points,” Kerry said, in an attempt to distance President Barack Obama’s administration from some of Trump’s phone calls that may anger longtime allies.
Trump also has not yet named a secretary of state, despite floating several names, such as Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Bob Corker, and David Petraeus, for America’s top diplomatic post.
“Nobody knows what’s going on. There’s been very little contact with the Trump people,” Feierstein told POLITICO. “People at the department are being asked to prepare for Nikki Haley” — Trump’s pick for United Nations ambassador — “but the potential secretary of state? Not so much.”