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50 politically appointed US ambassadors to leave before inauguration day

U.S. President Barack Obama won't be the only one clearing his desk in the lead-up to inauguration day on Jan. 20.

Around 50 politically appointed ambassadors will be following suit, Kirk Wagar, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Singapore, told CNBC on Wednesday—himself included.

There's a misunderstanding that every single U.S. ambassador will be ejected when president-elect Donald Trump takes office on Jan. 20 but only those personally chosen by Obama himself are leaving, Wagar confirmed.


The U.S. embassy in Moscow on December 30, 2016.
ALEXANDER NEMENOV / AFP / Getty Images
The U.S. embassy in Moscow on December 30, 2016.

"There are 275 chiefs of missions around the world, which includes consul generals, so the vast majority of ambassadors worldwide will be staying...[For example] I'm the only person in my embassy who's a political appointee, everyone else is a career diplomat," Wagar explained.

The term career diplomat refers to public servants who work for their country's foreign ministries, versus political appointees who can be people from non-government backgrounds.

"Continuity [under Trump] is there. A lot of times people read the headlines without knowing the underlying facts," Wagar added.

The White House had asked political appointees to submit their letters of resignation by Dec. 7—a common practice for an outgoing administration, State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a daily press briefing on Friday.

"When you're a political appointee for this or any other administration, you have no expectation of staying beyond the inauguration of a new administration....You serve at the pleasure of the president, and when his terms runs out, you have every expectation that your term will run out. That's the way it works," Kirby explained.

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