The surprise news Tuesday afternoon that Aaron Wess Mitchell was resigning as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs was considered far more than a routine departure by the diplomatic corps and by State Department correspondents.
Most significant, administration sources told Newsmax, the exit of Mitchell is a further sign Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will most likely resign his position before the year is out and run for an open U.S. Senate seat in Kansas in 2020.
Mitchell's resignation after barely 15 months in the key position was seen as a strong sign of trouble for the administration in recruiting talent for its foreign policy bench.
"It's unfortunate," one European diplomat who requested anonymity told Newsmax. "Wess was reliable and a key partner for us."
A founder of the Center for European Policy Analysis and onetime national security adviser to Mitt Romney in his 2012 presidential campaign, Mitchell had been considered one of the leading members of Pompeo's team at the State Department.
He also had an excellent relationship with major political figures throughout Europe. With Mitchell's assistant secretary portfolio to be assumed by an "acting" official once he leaves office in February, State Department correspondents agree it will be some time until the president sends a permanent appointment to the Senate for confirmation.
The departure of Mitchell, much-respected by the international community and much-trusted by Pompeo, is sure to fuel the current stories the secretary of state will resign to seek the seat of retiring Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
One Kansas Republican, who knows Pompeo well, told us "he might be thinking it is good to leave now at the top of his game and when he has something to which he can move on."
Since the end of World War II, five former senators have gone on to be secretary of state. But one has to go back to the early 19th century to find a secretary of state who went on to be U.S. Senator (Timothy Pickering, secretary of state under George Washington and John Adams, who was elected U.S. Senator from Massachusetts in 1802).
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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