Secretary of State Rex Tillerson really blew a hole in the U.S.’s relationship with the EU. Donald Trump shook the U.S.’s ties to the EU during his trip to NATIO and the G7. Yet, Tillerson had been already working on killing the nation’s vital partnership with the EU. This is what happened.
After the secretary’s trip to Russia in April, the EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini had her staff ask Tillerson’s office to arrange a debriefing phone call. The secretary blew her off, when he refused to accept a phone call from Mogherini. Instead, he passed the call off to a much lower level State Department official, and she was hot. A source told Foreign Press:
‘It really pissed her off.’
Another source near to Mogherini told FP:
‘This like a total screw-up. This is not the way you treat Mogherini.’
The reason that the EU foreign policy chief wanted to meet with Tillerson had to do with his recent trip to Russia. All of the allies wanted Tillerson to brief them about his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Mogherinin was scheduled to travel to Moscow shortly after Tillerson’s meeting there.
After Tillerson shuttled the foreign policy chief to Brian Hook, who was “several rungs lower on the hierarchy than the secretary of state,” she declined.
Another official in the EU commented to FP anonymously:
‘We never had to suffer from a denial from the U.S. side for a call with the secretary of state. [Mogherini] had several phone conversations with the secretary on different issues.’
A representative of the State Department told FP:
“Our ongoing, high-level engagement underscores the commitment of the United States to the trans-Atlantic relationship.’
This official said that since the two never met, “there is therefore no incident.” The official offered the suggestion that this was simply a scheduling issue, even offering up the possibility that Mogherini gave State too little notice.
However, the badly understaffed State Department continued causing miscommunications. Another Tillerson snub occurred with the head of the African Union last month, again due to a scheduling error.
The Trump White House has left the State Department with a scarcity of those important middle-management posts responsible for daily relations with Europe. The vacant positions include the ambassadors to NATO and the EU, along with the assistant secretary of state for Europe.
A source near Mogherini told FB:
‘There is a pattern here of not being able to run the logistics of sorting out meetings. They don’t have anyone in the administration to pick these things up.’
Check out Tillerson honoring the military by riding his Harley at Rolling Thunder in this video:
— Tennessee (@TEN_GOP) May 29, 2017
Featured Image: Getty Images/Alex Wong.