Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson/ AP Cliff Owen

Rex Tillerson has been tasked with steering the State Department into an "America First" era, with looming budget cuts and a shrinking mission.

Why it matters: Nancy McEldowney, who resigned in June from her role as Director of the Foreign Service Institute at the State Department, told Axios "it became a very difficult and discouraging environment" and warned that the core identity of the department was in jeopardy.

It started with budget cuts.

In May, Trump proposed slashing funding for the department and U.S. Agency for International Development by almost 32% in favor of expanding the military.

Spokesperson Heather Nauert said this was an "America First" budget that "prioritizes the well-being of Americans, bolsters U.S. national security, secures our borders, and advances U.S. economic interests."

Top-level positions remain empty and without nominations.

"I have a lot of open slots. I don't have but one under secretary position filled," Secretary Tillerson said on Wednesday. Top-level positions remain vacant. Current and former employees expressed concerns of Tillerson shutting himself off from veteran officials and relying on a small network of close advisors, per Foreign Policy. In addition, a majority of ambassadorships that opened during the presidential transition remain unfilled.

Press briefings are at the lowest frequency since 1979.

Press briefings used to occur almost every day; currently they happen about twice a week. Last Wednesday's briefing was the first time Tillerson appeared in the briefing room since Trump took office.

Two prestigious recruitment programs have been temporarily suspended.

The Diplomacy Fellows Program (DFP) and the Presidential Management Fellows program have been suspended. Both of the programs have helped fill diplomatic roles from a top-talent pool, and as McEldowney noted, aided in the overall readiness of the State Department.

Tillerson is turning away money to counter terrorism.

$80 million was earmarked by Congress to combat propaganda and Russian disinformation, $60 million of which will expire if not accepted, Politico reported. From the State Dept: "There is a process underway to ensure any future funding or programs account for the most appropriate tactics and strategy – especially in countering propaganda from countries such as Russia that have minimal protections for free speech or the media."

Core values of the Department may be in jeopardy.

Last week, The Washington Post obtained a State Department email containing drafts for possible new mission statements. In addition to being shorter in length, the proposed statements eliminated any mention of promoting justice or democracy.

"If our foreign policy is only about getting a 'good deal,' if it's only about serving our self interest, if we lose our sense of compassion and shared humanity, than we lose our moral compass, and once that's gone than we're truly lost," McEldowney warned.

A State Dept. official said a review of the department's mission is "an ongoing, employee-led process with no preconceived outcomes."

The bottom line: As Foreign Policy reports, "by failing to fill numerous senior positions across the State Department, promulgating often incoherent policies, and systematically shutting out career foreign service officers from decision-making, the Trump administration is undercutting U.S. diplomacy and jeopardizing America's leadership role in the world."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that a majority of ambassadorships opened during the transition remain unfilled.

Go deeper

Cuomo: "No way I resign" after sexual harassment accusations

Cuomo at a Feb. 24 press conference. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was defiant on Sunday, stating again that he would not resign even as more former aides have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.

The big picture: Cuomo has denied all sexual harassment allegations against him and said that he "never inappropriately touched anybody." He acknowledged in a statement that "some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation." Some of the calls for Cuomo to resign have come from within the Democratic party.

N.Y. Times faces culture clashes as business booms

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New York Times columnist David Brooks' resignation from a paid gig at a think tank on Saturday is the latest in a flurry of scandals that America's biggest and most successful newspaper company has endured in the past year.

Driving the news: Brooks resigned from the Aspen Institute following a BuzzFeed News investigation that uncovered conflicts of interest between his reporting and money he accepted from corporate donors for a project called "Weave" that he worked on at the nonprofit.

America rebalances its post-Trump news diet

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Nearly halfway through President Biden's first 100 days, data shows that Americans are learning to wean themselves off of news — and especially politics.

Why it matters: The departure of former President Trump's once-ubiquitous presence in the news cycle has reoriented the country's attention.