Democrats slam alleged politicization of Trump State Department after IG report

Democrats on Capitol Hill offered sharp condemnation for the State Department after a federal watchdog report laid out allegations that top officials in the State Department's Bureau of International Organization Affairs harassed and mistreated staffers over suspicions that they were "disloyal" to President Trump.

The inspector general report published Thursday claimed that at least one top career employee in the State Department's Bureau of International Organization Affairs was pushed out of her role for inappropriate reasons, while others allegedly had their duties stripped from them because of their superiors' political views.

The report also alleged that some the engaged in "disrespectful and hostile treatment" of staffers.

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House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelHouse chairman reaches deal on classified briefing with Trump's Afghanistan negotiator Overnight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine House chairman subpoenas Trump's Afghanistan negotiator MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Thursday that he was "particularly angry" about allegations that the top official had been removed and another allegation that an employee was denied a job opportunity due to his "relationship with the gay and lesbian community."

“Let’s be clear: these actions are prohibited by law and they are offensive. They happened more than a year ago with no consequences," he said.

Engel called for Kevin Moley, assistant secretary of State for the department’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs, to "resign or be fired."

The report claims Moley failed to prevent the alleged mistreatment in spite of multiple complaints. The document also cites numerous examples of alleged inappropriate behavior by Mari Stull, who previously was a senior political appointee in the bureau. 

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on Friday issued a statement in response to the report, writing that career State Department employees had told the committee "for years" about alleged "politically motivated retaliation and mistreatment by the Trump Administration."

Cummings added that the document left "no doubt" that Trump appointees had "mismanaged" the State Department and "violated the public trust." 

"This report leaves no doubt that Trump Administration political appointees have mismanaged the Department and violated the public trust, and the American people deserve swift action to hold those officials accountable and to root out this systemic problem from throughout the State Department and the rest of the Administration,” Cummings said.

Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezAs NFIP reauthorization deadline looms, Congress must end lethal subsidies Senate Democrats warn Trump: Don't invite Putin to G-7 Pelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid MORE (N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement that "politicizing our national security puts America’s safety at risk."

“Creating a hostile environment at the State Department, discriminating against loyal public servants, and retaliating against those deemed not loyal is a cancer at the State Department and for career employees across the government," he added. "This OIG investigation makes clear the Administration has undermined American interests and values and placed our nation in harm’s way."

Asked about the Democratic leaders' reactions, a State Department spokesperson told The Hill that the department accepted the report's recommendations. Inspector General Steve Linick recommended the department develop a “corrective action plan” to fix perceived leadership deficiencies in the bureau. Linick also recommended that State consider possible “disciplinary action” against Moley.

The spokesperson said the department's undersecretary for political affairs is working with the bureau to improve leadership and management. 

Stull and Moley were accused in the report of having "frequently berated employees, raised their voices, and generally engaged in unprofessional behavior toward staff," treating employees in a "harsh and aggressive manner," and creating a "negative and 'vindictive' environment."

The report said that about 50 domestic employees have left the agency since Moley took over. Of those who were interviewed by the watchdog, most cited poor leadership as a factor in their decision.

The report was based on more than 40 interviews and thousands of emails and other documents.  

“Nearly every employee interviewed by OIG raised concerns about the leadership of IO and the treatment of staff,” the report stated.

Moley, in an official response to the report, said the alleged events are "mischaracterized," in the report. He added that contextual information is missing and also that there are factual inaccuracies. 

"The behavior attributed to me regarding raising my voice, berating employees and contributing to a hostile work environment does not represent the person I am or have ever been," he said.