Report: State Department Shut Out of Netanyahu Talks

Not a single representative from the State Department was reportedly present for White House meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week. Instead, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, who has no diplomatic experience or regional expertise, was given a central role in the meeting, according to a CBS News report late Thursday. Acting Deputy Secretary of State Tom Shannon was officially scheduled to take Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s place in one of the meetings with Netanyahu, but then reportedly was shut completely out of the White House gathering. The news comes as nearly an entire floor of State Department personnel were reportedly laid off Thursday, amid continued confusion as the Trump administration moves in at Washington’s central diplomatic institution. As Tillerson was making his first trip abroad in the post—in Germany for the G-20 summit—longtime staffers for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices were being dismissed, raising fears of politically motivated reprisals and additional losses of expertise at a time when many high-ranking State jobs have gone unfilled. A Guardian article Thursday reported Tillerson appeared to be increasingly sidelined by top Trump advisers on key foreign-policy decisions, and was denied his choice of Elliott Abrams as his deputy.