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 other federal workers. The story also reported that the State Department even spread false information and called an employee an “Obama cheerleader.” Further reporting surfaced that senior Trump officials discussed ways to purge former Obama career employees from their positions. Then in June 2018, Foreign Policy reported 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 raised alarm among staff and some left the department as a result. Nearly a year later in August 2019, an inspector general’s report found that there was rampant “mistreatment of career employees” at the agency by Stull and former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Kevin Moley.
An authoritarian-like preoccupation with loyalty is nothing new in the Trump administration, but concerns have reached a new level post-impeachment. Our investigation into the Trump administration’s emboldened loyalty purges following his acquittal of impeachment charges in the Senate is available here.