Donald Trump
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

I don’t know who in the Trump transition team is behind the inquiries that are being made of various cabinet agencies. We just got over the controversy at the Energy Department over efforts to identify officials who work on climate change and now the State Department is absolutely freaking out that they’ve been compelled to turn over information on people who work on “gender-related staffing, programming, and funding.” More specifically, the inquiry demanded that “each office should include information on all existing programs and activities that ‘promote gender equality, such as ending gender-based violence, promoting women’s participation in economic and political spheres, entrepreneurship, etc.’”

It’s true that this inquiry could have an innocent explanation, like the transition team is looking to promote gender equality and help women excel at entrepreneurship, but I’m not betting on it.

It seems like these inquiries are designed to give the new administration a head start on purging government agencies of employees who believe in climate science or empowering and protecting women.

Despite that ambiguity, fears spread quickly Wednesday throughout State Department headquarters that the incoming Trump administration might use this information to single out both political appointees and career officials who worked on these programs.

“These types of requests send a cold chill through the Department and career diplomats dedicated to their work and service to the country,” a different State Department official told me. “It’s devastating to morale.”

I’ve got news for the State Department. They haven’t yet begun to understand what a devastating blow to morale looks like.

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at