Donald Trump has ordered all Obama ambassadors to quit by Inauguration Day, without exception

Donald Trump has ordered Obama ambassadors to quit, without exception
(Image credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

For decades, U.S. ambassadors politically appointed by an outgoing president have been able to request an extension until Congress confirms their replacement, selected by an incoming president, but President-elect Donald Trump has informed all such ambassadors that they must resign by Jan. 20 "without exceptions," according to a Dec. 23 State Department cable described to The New York Times. This will leave many key U.S. allies — Britain, Germany, Canada, Japan — without a U.S. ambassador for up to several months, but it also has envoys with school-age children — as Trump does — scrambling to figure out what to do.

"Political" ambassadors, as opposed to career diplomats, often have close ties to a president or donated to their campaigns, and they always leave when a new president from a different party takes office, says Ronald E. Neumann, president of the Washington-based American Academy of Diplomacy. "But I don't recollect there was ever a guillotine in January where it was just, 'Everybody out of the pool immediately.'" The U.S. ambassadors to the Czech Republic, Belgium, and Costa Rica, and America's U.N. representative in Geneva, all have children in the middle of school years, and the Costa Rica envoy, Stafford Fitzgerald Haney, is scrambling to find an apartment for himself, his wife (who's fighting breast cancer), and his four school-age children, The New York Times reports.

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.