The State Department on Monday removed from its website an article about the history and lavish furnishings of President Trump’s privately owned Florida resort club Mar-a-Lago, following questions about whether the federal government improperly promoted Trump’s moneymaking enterprises. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) pointed to the travelogue-style blog piece Monday, asking in a Twitter message why the State Department would spend “taxpayer $$ promoting the president’s private country club.”
This week began with reports that President Donald Trump’s budget proposal will drastically slash the State Department’s funding, and last week ended with White House adviser and former Breitbart head Stephen Bannon telling the attendees of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that what he and the new president were after was a “deconstruction of the administrative state.” At the State Department, which employs nearly 70,000 people around the world, that deconstruction is already well underway.
US spending on overseas aid is expected to bear the brunt of dramatic cuts as part of Trump’s plan to increase defence spending by $54bn in his upcoming budget. The US operates the largest and most expensive overseas aid programme in the world, with a proposed federal spend of $50.1bn for 2017 alone. More than $18bn of that is made up of economic and development assistance, commonly referred to as humanitarian aid.
It started out in Washington. Then it went to Jakarta. Then across Africa. One version even showed up on Facebook. Within hours, a State Department dissent cable, asserting that President Trump’s executive order to temporarily bar citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries would not make the nation safer, traveled like a chain letter — or a viral video.