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!

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!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on 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!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on 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!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on 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!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on 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!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on 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 Pompeo. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

In the wake of revelations about President Trump's shadow Ukraine diplomacy, the State Department has found itself in arguably its worst internal crisis since the Red Scare purges of the McCarthy era.

Why it matters: Like the military, the U.S. diplomatic corps is meant to do its work apart from the partisan political fray of Washington. But evidence suggests the Trump administration has interfered with that mission, circumventing career officials in the process, to pursue personal business interests and political aims.

Where it stands: The State Department has been rocked by concerns that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo furthered Trump's political goals to pressure Ukraine, a U.S. ally, by withholding a White House meeting and vital security funds.

  • Pompeo adviser Michael McKinley, whose career ambassador rank is equivalent to that of a general in the armed forces, resigned last week, attributing his departure to the politically motivated recall and reputational smearing of former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
  • George Kent, the senior official responsible for Ukraine policy in Washington, testified that he was sidelined by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland and special Envoy Kurt Volker.
  • As both officials have explained, these politicized decisions undercut policy objectives, engendering new forms of corruption rather than rooting it out.

The impact: The State Department has begun to hollow out. Applications to join the Foreign Service dropped by 22% in the first two years of the Trump administration, diminishing the talent pool the department will depend on years down the line.

Between the lines: It's especially difficult for department morale that many problems come from the top.

  • Pompeo told House committees that to protect personnel the State Department would not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. But the treatment of Yovanovitch and the testimony of other officials make clear that their interests were not the highest priority.
  • Many State Department officials still recall Pompeo's attacks on diplomatic personnel during the Benghazi hearings (in the name of congressional oversight, ironically).

The bottom line: Undermining the work of the State Department — which is America’s global representative — risks reducing American standing and influence in an ever more complex and chaotic world.

Joel Rubin is the president of the Washington Strategy Group and a former deputy assistant secretary of state.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
53 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The beginning of the beginning for Biden's climate push

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Joe Biden's inauguration and the days right after will bring a rat-tat-tat burst of climate policy moves, but keep this in mind amid the splashy pledges: pushing through most of his agenda will be a long, uncertain slog.

Why it matters: Biden's climate plan is far more expansive than anything contemplated under President Obama. But for all the immediate pledges, it will take years to see how far Biden gets.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Biden's inflation danger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President-elect Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal has economists and bullish market analysts revising their U.S. growth expectations higher, predicting a reflation of the economy in 2021 and possibly more booming returns for risk assets.

Yes, but: Others are warning that what's expected to be reflation could actually show up as inflation, a much less welcome phenomenon.

Ina Fried, author of Login
4 hours ago - Technology

CES was largely irrelevant this year

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Forced online by the pandemic and overshadowed by the attack on the Capitol, the 2021 edition of CES was mostly an afterthought as media's attention focused elsewhere.

Why it matters: The consumer electronics trade show is the cornerstone event for the Consumer Technology Association and Las Vegas has been the traditional early-January gathering place for the tech industry.