Trump administration’s top European diplomat to resign in February

The Trump administration’s top diplomat on European affairs will reportedly resign from the State Department next month, thrusting further uncertainty into an already tense relationship between the White House and the European Union.

A. Wess Mitchell, 41, cited personal and professional reasons for leaving his post in a Jan. 4 resignation letter obtained by The Washington Post. His last day as assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs is Feb. 15.

The State Department confirmed Mitchell's upcoming resignation on Twitter, praising him as an "effective leader" and "good friend" to U.S. allies and partners in Europe. He will be replaced by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Elisabeth Millard on an acting basis, Robert Palladino, a deputy spokesperson for the State Department, tweeted.

In his letter, Mitchell said he felt that he had "completed what I set out to do" in his role.

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“As the administration completes its second year in office, I feel that I have completed what I set out to do in taking this position,” he wrote, citing his role in developing the State Department’s European strategy and helping Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe problem with Trump's Middle East peace plan India rolls out the red carpet for Trump Limbaugh: Democrats who set up George W. Bush to go to war with Iraq now organizing 'silent coup' against Trump MORE transition into his post after the firing of Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonTrump lashes out over Kelly criticism: 'He misses the action' Timeline: Trump and Romney's rocky relationship Top Democrat demands Barr recuse himself from case against Turkish bank MORE, according to the newspaper.

“As such, I believe that the time has come for me to spend more time with my young family, who have endured many days without me over the past several months,” he continued, according to the Post.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Mitchell sought to tamp down possible speculation that his resignation came in response to President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE's policies and rhetoric toward European countries. 

“I’m fully supportive of him, the job he’s doing, the leadership team here,” he told the Post in an interview. “But I feel like I’ve done what I came in to do. My kids have a greater claim to my time right now than the public does.” 

Trump rankled European allies by imposing tariffs on imports from European Union countries and calling the NATO "obsolete."

Mitchell echoed Trump's calls for Europe and other allies to share the costs of defense outlays, but told the Post that the U.S. will stay committed to its major allies.

Mitchell became the first assistant secretary of State in the Trump administration confirmed by the Senate in September 2017. He is the latest in a string of recent senior-level departures from the Trump administration.

Former Secretary of State James MattisJames Norman MattisFed chief issues stark warning to Congress on deficits Why US democracy support matters Hillicon Valley: DOJ indicts four Chinese military officers over Equifax hack | Amazon seeks Trump deposition in 'war cloud' lawsuit | Inside Trump's budget | Republican proposes FTC overhaul MORE announced his resignation late last month following President Trump’s surprise announcement that the administration would withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

Another top Mattis ally, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White, also left after she announced her resignation at the end of December.

The State Department currently has six of 24 positions awaiting Senate confirmation.

Mitchell, who said he does not yet have another job lined up, cautioned that the U.S. and its allies are "underprepared" for an impending "era of big-power competition."

“We’re entering an era of big-power competition,” he told the paper. “The West, U.S. and our allies are underprepared for that transition.”

— Updated 12:30 p.m.