Foreign Policy

Trump USAID commissioner instantly resigns after a controversial time period in workplace

Pete Marocco, a controversial Trump political representative at the U.S. Agency for International Development, told the group's senior management on Thursday that he intended to take a vacation by November he wrote in an email that he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Morocco did not say whether he would step down from his post as assistant to the USAID administrator. The move, however, follows a rocky career in the federal government for the loyalist to President Donald Trump, who has been forced out of senior positions in the Department of Defense and State Department.

Morocco is one of several recently controversial USAID appointments. He was accused of mismanagement and the creation of hostile work environments during his previous posts across the administration. Politico initially reported that Morocco had said goodbye.

USAID officials had written a formal memo to the agency's leadership recording their problems with Moroccan management, particularly its leadership of the agency's Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), which was set up to provide short-term money to help governments from Sudan to Ukraine thrive during critical transition periods.

Some had also asked some of their colleagues at the State Department and the Pentagon for advice on how to remove Morocco from its posts, officials familiar with the matter said.

"OTI's core capacity for effective operations is rapidly being degraded as the office is less on-site, less flexible, less fast, less trustworthy and less efficient, and employee morale is falling," says the memo first received from and was reported Politico. In a briefing on Capitol Hill this week in connection with the cuts, USAID employees were told by congressional assistants that Congress was not pleased with Morocco's management of the brand new office following the 13-page complaint in the media.

Since joining the US aid agency in July, Morocco has sought to revise the agency's Conflict Prevention and Stabilization Office mandate and cut funding for programs in the office. His efforts, including plans to withhold funding from programs to counter Russian influence in Ukraine and peace initiatives in Colombia, have brought him into conflict with USAID colleagues and officials from other agencies. USAID officials accused Morocco of derailing routine work for the office by insisting it approve new hires and signing thousands of USAID contracts that had already been approved by USAID officials on the ground.

However, Congress has marveled at plans to cut these programs, funded under the Global Fragility Act advocated by the powerful House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel. Jenny McGee, a retired Air Force officer and National Security Council veteran during the administration of George W. Bush, was tapped as USAID's Assistant Administrator for Relief, Response and Resilience (sometimes referred to as R3) in August and tasked with leading that portfolio with Rob Jenkins , a highly respected agency representative who Morocco sought to get out of the way at several points in the Trump administration. Jenkins is expected to head the Morocco office in his absence. McGee also attended a high-level task force event at the U.S. Peace Institute earlier this week that Morocco would have attended earlier.

USAID did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In the past, the agency has defended Morocco's tenure at USAID, touting its "decade of conflict-ridden experience" and "leadership skills and experience in leading large-scale rescue and resettlement operations for persecuted religious minorities".

Morocco's management of the office has enraged both senior officials and ordinary employees of the agency, leaving it with few powerful allies.

At her introductory town hall meeting with staff, McGee was faced with a laundry list of concerns and complaints about how the office was run under Morocco's leadership. Staff wanted to know what they were going to do to counter the division's negative reporting and to address the "significant disruption" in policy transition support caused by the new leadership's micromanaging of field leadership.

"Ma & # 39; am, respectfully, there are serious morale and trust issues with components of R3 right now," wrote a USAID official, referring to the three departments of the Conflict Prevention and Stabilization Office, which is headed by Morocco. "What are you going to do to address the lack of confidence that currently appears to be endemic to the R3 family, as evidenced by the fact that all questions so far have been anonymous?"

"Ma & # 39; am, CPS has seen several iterations of its mission statement in the first few months and it is still unclear to many of us what the mission is," said another employee. "What do you see as the mission for this emerging office?"

The complaints were reminiscent of those raised in his previous posts in the State and Defense Ministries, his former colleagues said. Yet Morocco was promoted twice while serving in the Trump administration.

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