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Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The State Department improperly retaliated against a career diplomat based on her "perceived political views, association with former administrations, and perceived national origin," according to a report from the Office of Inspector General.

The big picture: The inspector general report into alleged political retaliation against career diplomats comes as President Trump faces an impeachment inquiry "whose elements involve the mistreatment of career diplomats, in particular those dealing with Ukraine," per Politico.

  • The OIG recommends State Secretary Mike Pompeo discipline any political appointees, including U.S. envoy to Iran Brian Hook, who have violated policies against using non-merit based factors when assigning employees.

Context: The report focuses on events that unfolded in 2017, when Rex Tillerson was still the secretary of state. The OIG reviewed thousands of emails regarding five cases of "allegations of politicized and other improper personnel practices."

  • Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, a career civil servant, had her one-year detail to the Policy Planning office cut short due to concerns over her Iranian heritage and questions about her loyalty to Trump, per Politico. She is known as Employee One in the report.
  • Employee Two worked in the Office of the Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure was re-assigned Freedom of Information Act duties because "he raised allegations of unethical conduct while on detail to another agency and because he worked on priorities of the previous administration," the report finds.
  • Employee Four, a senior executive, was removed from his position as director of refugee admissions and given temporary detail assignments allegedly because of his support for refugees, he and his supervisor told the OIG.
  • The OIG also investigated the case of Employee Five, a senior Foreign Service employee, who was denied a deputy assistant secretary position. The government watchdog said it examined this case because it found conversations discussing the employee's ethnicity and connections to the prior administration.
  • Information regarding Employee Three was redacted in the report.

The OIG's conclusion: "Improper considerations played a role in the early termination of Employee One’s detail, but OIG found no evidence that inappropriate factors played a role in relevant decisions relating to Employees Two and Three. As to Employees Four and Five, the lack of documentation and OIG’s inability to gain essential information from key decision makers meant that OIG could not draw conclusions as to the motives for the personnel decisions affecting these individuals."

  • The State Department's official response to the report can be found on page 54.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

29 mins ago - World

Scoop: Iran preparing to enrich weapons-grade uranium, Israel warns U.S.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference. Photo: Presidency of Iran handout via Getty

Israel has shared intelligence over the past two weeks with the U.S. and several European allies suggesting that Iran is taking technical steps to prepare to enrich uranium to 90% purity — the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon, two U.S. sources briefed on the issue tell me.

Why it matters: Enriching to 90% would bring Iran closer than ever to the nuclear threshold. The Israeli warnings come as nuclear talks resume in Vienna, with Iran returning to the negotiating table on Monday after a five-month hiatus.

Biden: Fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Monday said that the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, is "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic."

Driving the news: Biden said later this week the administration will be releasing a strategy on how "we're going to fight COVID this winter. Not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk — Fauci says Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S. — U.S. restricts air travel from 8 countries over Omicron concerns.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns."
  3. States: New York declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron.
  4. World: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating worldWHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries — First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

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