Loyalty Tests and Retaliation

From the very beginning of the presidency, it has been clear that President Trump values loyalty over qualifications and experience. President Trump expects public servants to be loyal to him personally--and those who appear to be anti-Trump, particularly those who used to work in the Obama administration, find themselves facing backlash. Following reports that the administration is assessing the political views of career government employees and attempting to purge those perceived to be “disloyal,” American Oversight is investigating how often this is occurring at federal agencies.

What We’re Seeking:

  • State Department official & former lobbyist Mari Stull’s communications, calendars, emails, and internet search history to related to her review of State employees’ social media pages for ideological deviation.
  • Communications from senior State Department officials including U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Kevin Edward Moley containing search terms such as Loyal, Loyalty, Holdover, “Deep State,” MAGA, Swamp, and “America First.”
  • Records to shed light on the targeting of holdover employees from the Obama administration.
  • Records from multiple agencies to shed light on whether or not senior administration officials have expressed expectations of loyalty and attempted to purge oppositional employees.
  • All agreements, certifications, oaths, commitments, or other pledges required from HHS political appointees or career staff prior to employment.

Background:

Politico reported in March 2018 that high-level Trump administration officials expressed concern about employees who worked in the Obama administration and the “loyalty” of some other employees. The story also reported that the State Department even spread false information and called an employee an “Obama cheerleader.” Reports also surfaced that senior Trump officials discussed ways to purge former Obama career employees from their positions. American Oversight submitted a FOIA to multiple agencies to determine if and where these conversations are happening.

Then in June 2018, Foreign Policy reported that that a State Department official, former-lobbyist Mari Stull, was searching social media profiles and investigating current employees to see if they were “disloyal” to the Trump administration. Stull’s investigations reportedly included assessing whether or not career State employees had supported Obama-era policies. The secrecy surrounding this monitoring has raised alarm among employees and some have left the department as a result.