There is at least one tradition of the “swamp” that President Donald Trump is keeping alive — giving cushy ambassadorships to donors and well-connected politicos.
President Trump has nominated career foreign service officers to ambassadorships in places like Haiti, Sierra Leone, and Guatemala, but just like in past administrations a select few are eligible to be picked to represent the U.S. in the United Kingdom or Singapore.
The Daily Caller went through a list of 48 individuals selected for ambassadorships and 27 of the them are political appointees. These nominees include major donors like Kelly Knight Craft, who was recently confirmed by the Senate to become ambassador to Canada, and Callista Gingrich, wife of prominent Trump supporter Newt Gingrich, who was nominated to be ambassador to the Holy See.
Giving sought-after ambassadorships to donors is a common practice, and former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, a noted Trump critic, told TheDC he doesn’t “have strong views” on the practice.
The political appointees Trump has chosen include donors and those connected to his administration, campaign, or Republican politics in general.
Richard Grenell, a conservative commentator and former U.S. spokesman at the United Nations, is Trump’s pick to serve as ambassador to Germany. Obama’s first pick for the role, Phil Murphy, was a major Democratic candidate who said he raised $300 million for the party as its finance chair.
Another example of a political nominee who wasn’t a donor is former Navy admiral Edward Masso. Masso is a longtime friend of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and is Trump’s choice to serve as America’s envoy to Estonia.
There are still plenty of ambassadorships that have gone to fundraisers. Trump’s pick for ambassador to Denmark, Carla Sands, hosted a dinner in support of Trump for 200 donors who had to contribute between $2,700 and $449,400 to attend. Sands, who’s the widow of investor Fred Sands, would go on to serve on the Trump campaign’s economic advisory council alongside Anthony Scaramucci.
Big pockets are frequently a necessity of sorts for ambassadors overseas. A 2012 Bloomberg article said that some ambassadors spend more than $1 million of personal money a year as part of their social duties overseas.