Former U.S. ambassador Dan Baer: ‘We have reached a point where Tillerson should be removed’

Author: Ernest Luning - November 28, 2017 - Updated: November 28, 2017

Dan Baer, the former U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and a one-time congressional candidate in Colorado's 7th Congressional District, stands on the deck outside a coffee shop in Lakewood on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)Dan Baer, the former U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and a one-time congressional candidate in Colorado’s 7th Congressional District, stands on the deck outside a coffee shop in Lakewood on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Dan Baer, the former U.S. ambassador who launched a brief congressional campaign in Colorado’s 7th District earlier this year, on Monday said recent reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appears to be gutting the State Department and has been skipping diplomatic security briefings means it’s time for the one-time oil executive to call it quits.

“We seem to have ventured from general incompetence … into a stage of negligence,” Baer told the hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “Not only do we see talent that is really important to national security fleeing the State Department in droves or being pushed out, but now we hear these latest reports of Secretary Tillerson failing to get security briefings. That puts diplomats at risk.”

Baer noted he called in August for an apology to the American people from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the two top Republican foreign policy leaders who had endorsed Tillerson’s nomination, but added Monday that was no longer enough.

“I think they now should be calling for him to be fired. We have reached a point where Tillerson should be removed. It is unacceptable, his behavior in this job,” Baer said.

He also reiterated a call for Sen. Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to conduct oversight hearings into Tillerson’s refusal to hold required briefings with the State Department’s security staff.

Baer tweeted a link to a New York Times story headlined “Diplomats sound the alarm as they are pushed out in droves,” and added, “This is outrageous. If doesn’t call an immediate hearing, the Senate, along w Tillerson, will have blood on their hands if a diplomat gets hurt. This is a moment for Congressional oversight.”

Over the course of nine months, the Times reported, Tillerson “turned down repeated and sometimes urgent requests from the department’s security staff to brief him” and then forced out the department’s career security chief after meeting once for five minutes.

Baer was the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe under President Barack Obama. He’s currently the diplomat in residence at the University of  Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies.

The Arvada Democrat announced a run for Ed Perlmutter’s 7th Congressional District seat in early August, joining an already crowded primary field, after Perlmutter said he was running for governor and then said he wouldn’t seek a seventh term after dropping his gubernatorial bid. By early October, however, Perlmutter had changed his mind and was running for reelection, and Baer ended his congressional campaign — even while raising over $365,000 in the two-month period, more than any other Colorado congressional candidate, including incumbents, brought in for the quarter.

Diplomats, Baer said, “deserve the security and protection they need in order to be able to do their work, and it’s really a shame that their leader, their boss, is really neglecting to take care of it.”

He said since President Donald Trump’s inauguration and Tillerson’s failure to fill key diplomatic positions — on top of forced retirements and dismissals described by Senate Democrats as an “intentional hollowing-out” the State Department — the international community is “decreasingly” turning to the United States for leadership.

“A lot of our friends in Europe look at what’s going on right now, the diplomatic corps looks at what’s going on right now in the United States as kind of a psychotic episode, and they’re hoping we will recover in 2020 and restore principled American leadership, because the United States for the last 70 years has been the long pole in the tent. We are the thing that’s stable even when other things are unstable,” Baer said.

He said that the United States is still seen as stable but isn’t considered a leader right now, adding, “and that’s really damaging.”

“People don’t realize how fragile and precious things are until they’re gone. Just like paper money is only paper once people stop believing it’s worth something, American leadership — it depends on the trust and the confidence of the world,” Baer said.

Still, he maintained that it isn’t too late to restore America’s place in the world.

“There is a deep love for American principles and values and the leadership we have historically brought and a yearning to see that return. I think that actually speaks well for all that I’m pessimistic about in this day and age. There’s a hunger for us to return to the world stage — not in a domineering way, but in being the leader of the free world, of universal values and being an example for others.”

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.

One comment

  • DonRS

    November 28, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Sadly, Baer may well be correct. Tillerson is accustomed to being the “top dog” which none of his subordinates dared disagree. Now, he is subordinate to the President, but refuses to believe it. Its sad, but it appears, he does need to go! He is the “leader” of the biggest bunch of embedded Obama SWAMP RATS among all the poorly performing Executive Branch agencies!

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