New Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is leading what some outlets have referred to as a "bloodbath" at the State Department, showing the door Thursday to staff employees in the offices of deputy secretary of state for management and resources as well as counselor, reports CBS News.
Tillerson himself was out of the country attending the G20 meeting in Bonn, Germany, when the layoffs — mostly focusing on executives from the 7th floor — went through. The move, according to CNN, unsettled the agency as a whole because many of those let go had not yet finished their assignments and found replacements. Additionally, the employees sent packing are traditionally a part of the team that would help the incoming secretary — in this case a government novice — navigate his new position.
“As part of the transition from one administration to the next, we continue to build out our team. The State Department is supported by a very talented group of individuals, both Republicans and Democrats,” State Department spokesman RC Hammond told CBS.
“We are appreciative to any American who dedicates their talents to public,” he said.
The layoffs on the 7th floor may be particularly appealing to those passionately opposed to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In October of 2016, CNBC reported that as part of the FBI probe of Clinton's emails, the bureau's reports referenced a "shadow government" within the State Department. Those employees were housed on the 7th floor and their role was reportedly to protect Clinton from Freedom of Information Requests and congressional inquiries.
"There was a powerful group of very high-ranking STATE officials that some referred to as 'The 7th Floor Group' or 'The Shadow Government.' This group met every Wednesday afternoon to discuss the FOIA process, Congressional records, and everything CLINTON-related to FOIA/Congressional inquiries," the FBI's interview summary said.
That group, according to the summary, argued for a Clinton document release to be conducted all at once "for coordination purposes" instead of on a rolling basis as would normally be the case. But the "Shadow Government" did not get its way, and the agency in charge decided for a rolling release, the FBI summary said.
This marks the second time since Trump entered the Oval Office that there have been layoffs at the State Department. Four top officials were asked to leave at the end of January.