U.S. Ambassador, Obama Holdover, Signals Disdain for Representing Trump

U.S. Ambassador to Qatar, whose family bundled thousands for Obama, laments working for Trump

US Ambassador to the State of Qatar Dana Shell Smith
U.S. Ambassador to the State of Qatar Dana Shell Smith / Getty Images
May 15, 2017

The U.S. ambassador to Qatar, an Obama administration holdover whose family donated hundreds of thousands to the Obama campaign, signaled her distaste for working under President Donald Trump, raising questions about her commitment to the new administration.

Dana Shell Smith, the U.S. ambassador for Qatar who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, took to Twitter last week to express her frustration at Trump's administration, which has been battling negative headlines over a plethora of foreign and domestic issues.

Smith, whose Hollywood executive brother bundled at least $50,000 to $100,000 for Obama during his run for the White House, tweeted that it is "increasingly difficult to wake up overseas to news from home, knowing I will spend today explaining our democracy and institutions."

Smith's public expression of frustration with Trump is raising eyebrows both inside and outside of the administration among those who believe that Obama-era holdovers are working to undermine the current president.

Smith is just one of many current officials who also served in the Obama administration. The Washington Free Beacon, as well as other outlets, has reported multiple times on efforts by these holdovers to undermine Trump and his larger national security agenda. Smith's comments are being viewed as yet another attempt by Obama loyalists to foster skepticism of Trump.

"The Trump administration has been taking a lot of heat from the base for not cleaning out Obama holdovers, and this is exactly what people are talking about," one veteran Middle East adviser who is close to the White House told the Free Beacon. "There are hundreds of Obama supporters who are supposed to be non-political career professionals, but actually see themselves as part of the Resistance."

The goal of these officials, the source said, "is to grind the government to a halt, because they don't like the idea of any Republican administration, let alone this one, being empowered by voters to enact policies."

Smith's brother, Hollywood executive Jeff Shell, was a top campaign bundler for Obama. He raised between $50,000 and $100,000 to Obama during the 2008 campaign season, according to reports.

Obama-era holdovers have become a tense issue for the Trump administration in recent months, with many insiders suspecting that a range of sensitive leaks have emanated from these officials, sources said.

Calls have been mounting inside the administration for Trump and his senior staff to clean house, an issue that is complicated by the narrow pool of officials from which team Trump can choose.

A recent example of this struggle saw Senior National Security Council adviser on Israel, Yael Lempert—an Obama holdover who was viewed as "one of the harshest critics of Israel"—pushed out of the current administration after a months-long battle.

However, her replacement, Kris Bauman, shares similar views. Bauman has decried the so-called "Israel Lobby" and has called for the terror group Hamas to be included in Middle East peace talks, according to reports.

Trump administration insiders likened the problem to a game of whack-a-mole, a children's game in which players must hit a group of moles as they pop out of their holes.

"The problem is that the Obama administration left holdovers all over the government, so you get rid of one Obama loyalist and the replacement is another Obama loyalist," said one national security insider close to the Trump administration.

"That's already happened multiple times especially with Middle East appointments," the source said, referring to Lempert and Bauman.