Trump administration officials worked with conservative figures like Newt Gingrich to discredit government staffers who worked under former President Barack Obama, internal emails obtained by Politico revealed.
House Democrats penned a letter Thursday calling on White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Deputy State Secretary John Sullivan to comb through emails and documents from several high-level officials at the State Department and White House. The letter accuses the officials of collaborating to conduct a "cleaning" of longtime employees who worked for administrations other than President Trump's.
Politico reviewed emails from State Department officials like Brian Hook, the director of policy planning staff, and White House liaison Julia Haller, who repeatedly questioned the loyalty of Iran expert Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, a State Department employee who was hired under the Bush administration in 2005 and served under Obama.
At one point, Gingrich sent a disparaging article about Nowrouzzadeh to a top aide to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, writing, "I think a cleaning is in order here," referring to purging staffers not considered sufficiently "supportive" of Trump's agenda. Other emails branded inherited staffers as "a leaker and a troublemaker" and a "turncoat."
The State Department denies any wrongdoing. "Any suggestion that the makeup of the Policy Planning Staff reflects a bias against career civil servants is completely without merit,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert told Politico.
Thursday's letter, sent by Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings (Md.) and Eliot Engel (N.Y.), called the paranoia about so-called "Obama holdovers" disturbing. The letter requests action by the end of the month. Read more at Politico.