Daily Beast reporter Josh Rogin took State Department Press Secretary Jen Psaki to task over her contention Obama political appointees generally have made good ambassadors Friday in the State Department press conference.
Rogin, citing the State Department's own Inspector General Office, listed a litany of transgressions committed by Obama administration ambassadors who were political appointees. The embarrassments Rogin highlighted included the Ambassador to the Bahamas taking 270 personal days over 18 months and the Ambassador to Belgium being investigated for soliciting prostitutes in the park near his house.
Given this track record, The Daily Beast reporter asked if Psaki would draw a distinction between the performance of political appointees and career public servants as ambassadors. Psaki sidesteped in her response, replying she would not "speak to a range of reports" but reiterated the administration's line some appointees from a political background can be capable ambassadors.
JOSH ROGIN: Just a quick follow-up on your point?
JEN PSAKI: Sure.
ROGIN: Sometimes political appointees can make good ambassadors, but there is a track record here, according to the State Department IG's Office, Obama's appointee to Ambassador of Luxembourg ran that embassy into the ground; the ambassador to the Bahamas took 270 personal days in a year and a half. The ambassador to Belgium was reportedly investigated by your own IG's office for procuring prostitutes in the park in front of his house. So I'm wondering if you — do you — do you draw a distinction between people like Walter Mondale, who are, like, life-long public servants, and political donors and bundlers who have no professional or international experience whatsoever?
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PSAKI: Well, Josh, I would say obviously I'm not going to speak to a range of reports, and there are — there are people of all sorts of backgrounds that make poor choices but — and in some of these rules. But what I was conveying is that there are people who have broad backgrounds, backgrounds in — as leading companies, backgrounds working in important roles in the private sector, who take the step to be public servants, and that's an important thing I think we should all applaud, and that's part of what we're seeing. So —
Rogin's dialogue with Psaki was sparked by ABC reporter Jonathan Karl's earlier line of questioning over revelations former Obama campaign fundraiser and nominee for the Ambassadorship to Argentina Noah Mamet has never been to Argentina.