A top State Department official has stepped down in the face of the surveillance memo being released. The third-ranking and most senior member of the state department has tendered his resignation to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Tom Shannon was a career diplomat who served as undersecretary of state for political affairs. Spanning six presidents, the official had worked at the State Department for 34 years.
While Shannon claims to be leaving office in the federal government to spend more time with his family, the timing of his departure certainly raises some suspicions. Age 60, Shannon informed Tillerson on Wednesday of his plans to find a new direction in life.
Shannon had recently been working on some of the most complex issues plaguing the nation today. Tasked with spearheading Iran’s compliance to the nuclear deal, Shannon was also in charge of repairing the relations with Russia.
Shannon retires from his post as some of the more daunting challenges come to fruition. The continuation of talks around NAFTA present one of the larger problems that need to be solved. The continued escalation and actions of the North Korean military have left many with cause for alarm.
Criticized heavily in the State of the Union by the president, North Korea is a rogue regime dedicated to becoming a nuclear power. As the winter Olympics near, North Korea has pursued a détente diplomatic stance.
The Olympic games being held In South Korea have been a perfect opportunity to bring North Korea to a diplomatic negotiating table. Shannon has decided to leave some of these top negotiations to more junior officials.
Shannon has represented America in diplomatic events across the globe and is a name many dignitaries recognize. Recently, Shannon was present at the inauguration of Liberian President George Weah.
Shannon served as the ambassador to Brazil from 2005 to 2009. He also served in positions located in Cameroon, Johannesburg, and Gabon.
President Obama tasked Shannon to improve relations with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in 2015. Venezuela has since been engulfed in a violent civil war instigated by the socialist policies of Maduro.
Shannon has been hailed as a bridge for career establishment officials and proponents of President Trump’s agenda. Able to calm many people at the department, many state officials have been worried about the government downsizing under the president.
Shannon has also claimed he helped quell the fears many had about new policies. The foreign relations held with Mexico and war-torn nations has been a source of contention within the department.
That State Department, still not fully staffed, has seen an incredulously slow Senate approval of administration nominations. The downsizing, coupled with the lack of official appointments, has prompted liberal news outlets to lament over the low morale felt throughout the State Department.
Shannon has announced his retirement is not because of any low morale, or a lack of faith in the new secretary. Tillerson refuted any claim there was a moral problem at the agency.
Running more effectively than ever, Secretary of State Tillerson declared the department is in good standing. Making remarks on Thursday, Tillerson has offered his gratitude to Shannon for the work he performed during the transition period.
Impressed by his vast amount of knowledge, Secretary Tillerson expressed appreciation for the contributions made to the foreign strategy by Shannon. To further help stabilize the department, Shannon as vowed to stay on until a successor can be named.
Neither Tillerson or Shannon have indicated the departure is for political reasons. The resignation of the senior officials comes just days before the release of a surveillance memo circulating capitol hill.
The memo describes how the FBI and the Department of Justice have been colluding with the Democratic presidential campaign. The only State Department member who may be implicated in the memo is former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.
Having served under Secretary Clinton, Shannon would have been one of the top officials within the administration at the time. It is unclear if he had any information about the Fast and Furious scandal.
Toppling the Libyan government in order to sell weapons and profit off of the reconstruction, Hillary Clinton involved a number of people at the State Department when she let Ambassador Stevens die in Benghazi.