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The Trump Era

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Trump Turns to State Department Outsider for Key Mideast Post

January 16th 2018

A map

US President Donald Trump is expected to hire David Schenker, a director at the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy, as the State Department’s Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, BuzzFeed News reported.

If confirmed, Schenker, who was an adviser to former Republican Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, will become the first non-career official since the 1990s to lead the State Department’s Middle East bureau. Although it’s rare for a State Department outsider to receive the nomination, BuzzFeed said, Middle East analysts, including Republicans and Democrats, expressed some relief given the urgent need for a nominee to lead the bureau since the retirement of career diplomat Anne Patterson last January as well as concerns about other potential candidates for the job.

“David has the benefit of past government experience and has a solid track record of policy research on many of the key issues impacting the region,” said Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a think tank aligned with Democrats.

Schenker had served as an adviser to former Republican Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Most recently, in an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, Rumsfeld praised Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

“It’s a no brainer. It’s the right thing to do,” Rumsfeld said. “President Trump made the right decision — he stepped up and did it. It’s inevitable that there will be some criticism about it. But I just can’t imagine any country in the world that doesn’t believe that they have the right to have their capital where they want it.”


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