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Former top Bush official: State Dept being ‘weakened’ under Trump

Former top Bush official: State Dept being ‘weakened’ under Trump
© Greg Nash

A former senior State Department official is warning that the State Department is being "weakened" under President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Romney on NRSC awarding Trump: Not 'my preference' McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' MORE, The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Nicholas Burns, a George W. Bush-era State Department official, argued in an interview with the paper that "State and the Foreign Service are being weakened and often sidelined," despite the Trump administration's need for a strong agency to carry out the president's foreign policy agenda. 

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Burns, who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations, said the president's foreign policy strategy has left the U.S. with less power on the global stage.

Trump's "policy of the last 12 months is a radical departure from every president since World War II," Burns told the newspaper.

"Trump is weak on NATO, Russia, trade, climate, diplomacy. The U.S. is declining as a global leader," he added.

Burns's remarks echo those of many top officials who warn the State Department is weakening under the leadership of Trump and Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonBiden's is not a leaky ship of state — not yet With salami-slicing and swarming tactics, China's aggression continues Lawmakers to roll out legislation reorganizing State cyber office MORE, who have yet to fill key posts including ambassadors and assistant secretaries, who are responsible for regional policy.

In an op-ed last week, former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice gave a stinging rebuke of Tillerson for starving "the State Department of resources, talent and relevance." 

Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSylvester Stallone reportedly joins Trump's Mar-a-Lago The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations Cindy McCain to be named Biden ambassador to UN program: report MORE (R-Ariz.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenLawmakers express horror at latest Capitol attack Five things to watch on Biden infrastructure plan Democrats wrestle over tax hikes for infrastructure MORE (D-N.H.) sent a letter to Tillerson in November to express concern about the adverse consequences a "weakened" State Department could have as more crises begin to unfold abroad.  

“America’s diplomatic power is being weakened internally as complex, global crises are growing externally," the bipartisan duo wrote. 

"These decisions ultimately will not only degrade the United States’ leadership role in the world, but will also impact our constituents who have come to rely on the Foreign Service to ... lead our diplomatic efforts to address a myriad of international challenges, including emerging nuclear crises, the threat of war and outbreaks of global pandemics,” they continued.