The State Department's entire senior-level management team has been asked by the White House to step down just days into Donald Trump's presidency.
As secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson visited agency headquarters in Foggy Bottom in Washington on Wednesday, four top-level officials tendered their resignations, the Washington Post reported.
The Trump administration told the senior officials their services were no longer required, CNN reported. The White House typically asks career officials in senior positions to stay on for a few months until their successors are confirmed.
Tillerson, the 64-year-old former Exxon Mobile executive, won the support of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations earlier this week and is expected to be confirmed as secretary of state in a full Senate vote next week.
"Any implication that that these four people quit is wrong," one senior State Department official told CNN. "These people are loyal to the secretary, the president and to the State Department. There is just not any attempt here to dis the President. People are not quitting and running away in disgust. This is the White House cleaning house."
Long-serving undersecretary for management Patrick Kennedy, who had been in his job for nine years, and three of his top aides — Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions — all tendered their resignations, as is customary.
All four had served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.
These were the latest in a string of resignations and retirements since Trump took office last week.
Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr retired Jan. 20, the day Trump was sworn in and the director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, Lydia Muniz, left the same day.
“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” David Wade, who served as State Department chief of staff under Secretary of State John Kerry, told the Post. “Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector.”