Star U.S. diplomat quits with fiery resignation letter to Rex Tillerson

A distinguished U.S. diplomat who was seen as a rising star at the State Department resigned after writing a searing letter to Secretary Of State Rex Tillerson, accusing him of gutting the department and damaging America’s standing across the world.

Elizabeth Shackelford, who served as a political officer based in Nairobi for the U.S. mission to Somalia, lamented in a Nov. 7 letter obtained by Foreign Policy the “stinging disrespect” President Donald Trump’s administration had shown the diplomatic corps and how it was “driving” the department’s most experienced staff away in growing numbers.

“The cost of this is visible every day in Mission Somalia, my current post, where State’s diplomatic influence, on the country and within our own interagency, is waning,” Shackelford wrote.

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Somalia drought and famine crisis
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Somalia drought and famine crisis

Abdullahi Mohamud, 5, cries next to his mother Sahro Mohamed Mumin, 30, and brother, Abdulrahman Mahamud, 2, as a nurse struggles to find a vein for an injection at a government run health clinic on February 25, 2017 in Shada, Somalia. Abdullahi was diagnosed with bronchitis, Abdulrahman with pneumonia. Both children were also suffering from severe malnutrition.The family lost all of their animals due to drought and had traveled 150 kilometers in search of a better situation. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

People and livestock gather at a nearly dried up riverbed on February 24, 2017 in Dhudo, Somalia. People travel up to 75 kilometers to get water, as it is one of the only sources left in the region. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Fatun Mohamed Sareye, 30, sits at her home with her family at the Shabelle IDP (internally displaced people) camp on February 26, 2017 in Garowe, Somalia. Sareye lost both her husband and her sister in a water born illness in the had killed a reported 20 people in the past two weeks. She now is charged with taking care of 11 children, seven of her own and four of his sisters. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

A young boy suffering from malnutrition lies in a bed inside the malnutrition ward at Garowe General Hospital on February 27, 2017 in Garowe, Somalia. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

A dead cow sits just outside an IDP (Internally Displaced People) camp on February 24, 2017 in Karin Sarmayo, Somalia. Brief rains brought an estimated 100,000 people to the region in search of land for their livestock, but very limited pasture has lead to mass animal deaths and a growing number of IDP camps. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Goats eat from the trash in a dried riverbed on February 27, 2017 in Garowe, Somalia. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Abdullahi Mohamud, 5, cries next to his mother Sahro Mohamed Mumin, 30, and brother, Abdulrahman Mahamud, 2, as a nurse struggles to find a vein for an injection at a government run health clinic on February 25, 2017 in Shada, Somalia. Abdullahi was diagnosed with bronchitis, Abdulrahman with pneumonia. Both children were also suffering from severe malnutrition.The family lost all of their animals due to drought and had traveled 150 kilometers in search of a better situation. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Boys look out over a dried riverbed on February 27, 2017 in Garowe, Somalia. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

A young girl suffering from malnutrition lies in a bed inside the malnutrition ward at Garowe General Hospital on February 27, 2017 in Garowe, Somalia. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

A man draws water from a nearly dried up riverbed on February 24, 2017 in Dhudo, Somalia. People travel up to 75 kilometers to get water, as it is one of the only sources left in the region. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Fardowsa Abdullahi is measured at a government run health clinic on February 24, 2017 in Dhudo, Somalia. The two-year-old girl weighed 6.5 kilograms and was suffering from severe malnutrition. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Women and children sit inside the malnutrition ward at Garowe General Hospital on February 27, 2017 in Garowe, Somalia. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Medical staff treat a child suffering from malnutrition at Garowe General Hospital on February 27, 2017 in Garowe, Somalia. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Women and children sit inside the malnutrition ward at Garowe General Hospital on February 27, 2017 in Garowe, Somalia. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Boys watch as water is pumped from a nearly dried up riverbed on February 24, 2017 in Dhudo, Somalia. People travel up to 75 kilometers to get water, as it is one of the only sources left in the region. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Medical staff treat a child suffering from malnutrition at Garowe General Hospital on February 27, 2017 in Garowe, Somalia. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Boys play football in an empty lot on February 27, 2017 in Garowe, Somalia. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Sahro Mohamed Mumin, 30, looks at her son Abdulrahman Mahamud, 2, who was diagnosed with pneumonia and severe malnutrition, at a government run health clinic on February 25, 2017 in Shada, Somalia. Mumin's family lost all of their animals due to drought and had traveled 150 kilometers in search of a better situation. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Recently dug graves sit at the edges of a cemetery at the Shabelle IDP (internally displaced people) camp on February 26, 2017 in Garowe, Somalia. The camp had seen an reported 20 deaths from a water born illness in the past two weeks. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

A doctor checks on a young girl at a government run clinic inside an IDP (Internally Displaced People) camp on February 24, 2017 in Karin Sarmayo, Somalia. Brief rains brought an estimated 100,000 people to the region in search of land for their livestock, but very limited pasture has lead to mass animal deaths and a growing number of IDP camps. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

People and livestock gather at a nearly dried up riverbed on February 24, 2017 in Dhudo, Somalia. People travel up to 75 kilometers to get water, as it is one of the only sources left in the region. Somalia is currently on the brink of famine with over half of the country's population facing acute food insecurity according to the United Nations. The intensifying crisis has humanitarian groups racing to stop a repeat of 2011, in which 260,000 people died of famine throughout country.

(Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

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She said she was “shocked” when Tillerson, who stepped down as ExxonMobil CEO to serve as Trump’s secretary of state, told department employees that advancing human rights across the globe “creates obstacles to our ability to advance our national security interests.“

If Tillerson is unable to “stem the bleeding” and preserve the department’s mission, she added, “I would humbly recommend you follow me out the door.”

Trump’s administration has been harshly criticized for downplaying human rights issues in countries like Russia, Turkey, and the Philippines. Democratic lawmakers and former ambassadors have also accused Tillerson of gutting the department’s budget and staff at a critical and dangerous time, as difficult foreign policy challenges persist in the Middle East and on the Korean peninsula.

Tillerson, who has still has not denied having called Trump a “moron” in private earlier this year, has been the subject of a raft of rumors that his time at the State Department will be short-lived. The White House last month reportedly floated a plan about replacing Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo in order to help push out the secretary of state.

Tillerson has defended the job he has done and said the department has been in need of a “redesign” to simplify its workforce.

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Rex Tillerson through his career
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Rex Tillerson through his career

Exxon Mobil Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Rex Tillerson speaks at a news conference following the Exxon Mobil annual shareholders meeting in Dallas, Texas May 30, 2007. Tillerson told reporters on Wednesday that the construction of the Mackenzie pipeline project in Canada was not viable at current cost levels.

(REUTERS/Mike Stone)

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (R) and Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson look on at a signing ceremony in the Black Sea resort of Sochi August 30, 2011. Exxon and Russia's Rosneft signed a deal on Tuesday to develop oil and gas reserves in the Russian Arctic, opening up one of the last unconquered drilling frontiers to the global industry No.1.

(REUTERS/Alexsey Druginyn/RIA Novosti/Pool)

Executives from six major oil companies are sworn in to testify at a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on the "Consolidation in the Oil and Gas Industry: Raising Prices?" on Capitol Hill in Washington March 14, 2006. The executives are (L-R) Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil Corp., James Mulva, Chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips, David O'Reilly, Chairman and CEO of Chevron Corp., Bill Klesse, CEO of Valero Energy Corp., John Hofmeister, President of Shell Oil Company and Ross Pillari, President and CEO of BP America Inc.

(Jason Reed / Reuters)

ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson speaks during the IHS CERAWeek 2015 energy conference in Houston, Texas April 21, 2015.

(REUTERS/Daniel Kramer/File Photo)

Chairman, President and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation Rex Tillerson watches a tee shot on the 13th hole during the first round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club course in Pebble Beach, California, February 6, 2014.

(REUTERS/Michael Fiala)

Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil; John Watson, chairman and CEO of Chevron Corp.; James Mulva, chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips; Marvin Odum, president of Shell Oil Co.; and Lamar McKay, president and chairman of BP America Inc.; are sworn in during the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment hearing on their safety practices as oil continues to leak into the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig - operated by BP - exploded last month.

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson speaks during the IHS CERAWeek 2015 energy conference in Houston, Texas April 21, 2015.

(REUTERS/Daniel Kramer/File Photo)

WASHINGTON, DC - May 12: James Mulva, chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips; and Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp.; during the Senate Finance hearing on oil and gas tax incentives.

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation Rex W. Tillerson and Norway Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg attends the United Nations Foundation's global leadership dinner at The Pierre Hotel on November 8, 2011 in New York City.

(Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

Rex Tillerson, chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corp., left, speaks with Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates Inc., during the 2015 IHS CERAWeek conference in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. CERAWeek 2015, in its 34th year, will provide new insights and critically-important dialogue with decision-makers in the oil and gas, electric power, coal, renewables, and nuclear sectors from around the world.

(Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Renda St. Clair and Rex Tillerson attend the reopening celebration at Ford's Theatre on February 11, 2009 in Washington, DC.

(Photo by Abby Brack/Getty Images)

Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, listens during a meeting at the Department of the Interior September 22, 2010 in Washington, DC. Secretary of the Interior Kenneth L. Salazar hosted Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Gulf Oil Spill National Incident Commander Adm. Thad Allen (Ret.), representatives from the private sector and others to discus strengthening the containment abilities to deep water oil and gas well blowouts like the recent BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

(Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson bids farewell to Chad's Foreign Minister Mahamat Zene Cherif as he departs N'Djamena, Chad, March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tours an anti-poaching forensic lab at the Kenya Wildlife Service in Nairobi, Kenya, March 11, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh at the Presidential Palace in Djibouti, March 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson boards his plane to depart Addis Ababa International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gestures during a news conference at the governmental palace in Beirut, Lebanon, February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson look at a picture of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, as they arrive to a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Cem Ozdel/Pool
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