Another little list

Is Trump looking to purge the State Department of people and policies that promote women’s rights globally? Or is his team just getting acquainted with those people and policies? Hard to say.

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s transition team asked the State Department this week to submit details of programs and jobs aimed at promoting gender equality, rattling State Department employees concerned that the incoming administration will roll back a cornerstone project of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The one-page memo, a copy of which was provided to The New York Times on Thursday, directed employees to outline “existing programs and activities to promote gender equality, such as ending gender-based violence, promoting women’s participation in economic and political spheres, entrepreneurship, etc.”

The US Agency for International Development got the same memo.

You can’t tell whether they’re looking to squelch or looking to continue.

The wording of the memo is neutral and does not hint at any policy change. Nevertheless, some State Department employees took note of the reference to “gender-related staffing,” which they said could also refer to programs focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, though the memo did not refer specifically to them.

The memo is reminiscent of one the transition team sent recently to the Energy Department, which asked for the names of people who had worked on climate change or attended global climate talks organized by the United Nations within the past five years. That more detailed questionnaire, on the heels of Mr. Trump’s appointment of a climate change denialist to head the Environmental Protection Agency, sowed fears that the Trump administration would purge anyone involved in trying to curb the effects of climate change.

So that could be what they’re doing now, too. “Tell us what you’ve been doing so that we can stamp it all out.”

Transition officials are said to be concerned about how many senior jobs in the department will be vacated by departing political appointees. They asked whether there would be anyone to show the secretary of state-designate, Rex W. Tillerson, around his office.

Ooh, sarcasm.

Mr. Kerry has tended to champion efforts to counter climate change while at the State Department, but Mrs. Clinton made gender-related issues a leitmotif of her tenure.

In her first year, she created the position of ambassador at large for global women’s issues, appointing Melanne Verveer, who had been her chief of staff when she was first lady. Mr. Kerry kept the post, which is currently held by Catherine M. Russell, a former chief of staff to Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Some at the department now worry it will be eliminated.

He might get rid of it just because it was Clinton’s project. Then again he may have dropped his attacks on Clinton now that they’re no longer needed for campaign purposes. He seems to hold some grudges forever while blithely dropping others as if they’d been a joke all along.

Although Mr. Trump has a record of derogatory comments about women, it is not clear why he would want to roll back the department’s work in this area.

Unless it’s because it’s too closely associated with Clinton.

A senior State Department official said it was possible that the memo was simple fact-finding. But in the current political environment, and given the language Mr. Trump used in the campaign, he said, people were reading the most malign implications into it.

“I can’t believe any of this has been shared with the secretary-designate, because Exxon under Tillerson has been extremely supportive of women’s issues,” Ms. Verveer said. “It’s just really hard to fathom.”

Well, that’s Trump – he likes to surprise us.

4 Responses to “Another little list”