Have tweets on world affairs by President-elect Donald Trump since his election in November undermined the end of the tenure of the incumbent secretary of state?
John Kerry on Thursday, at what he termed his final State Department news conference, declined to directly comment on what he said is “effectively still politics.”
With two more weeks in the job, Kerry said, “I still have a couple of trips which are important and conversations I intend to be having on behalf of our country, things we still want to get done.”
After Trump’s inauguration on January 20, “I will have plenty of opportunity to speak out if I see fit and I will do it at the appropriate time,” he added.
Kerry spent the bulk of his time at the State Department podium Thursday afternoon touting what he regarded as the administration’s wide-ranging top foreign policy accomplishments, from the Iran nuclear deal to the Paris climate change agreement.
“Nobody can predict what choices this [next] administration is going to make,” Kerry said. “I think the question a lot of people ask is, ‘Do they know?'”
Trump has made almost daily policy pronouncements — some of them radical departures from existing U.S. positions — on the Twitter social media platform, unsettling diplomats at home and abroad.
The Trump tweets, in 140 characters or less, are the antithesis of the traditional bureaucratic method of nuancing foreign policy through carefully written speeches and lengthy papers.
Kerry, who chaired the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations for four years, expressed hope that “solid thinkers and patriots” would come forward and put their ideas on the table for the new administration.
In his most direct public comment yet about Trump’s surprise victory over Hillary Clinton, who was Kerry’s predecessor as secretary of state, the former senator said, “It was a lot about people’s disappointment with government, writ large.”
Asked if he thought Russian President Vladimir Putin directed the hacking of the Democratic National Committee during the presidential campaign, Kerry replied, “I accept the judgment of the intelligence community that this went to the highest level” of the Russian government.
Trump has nominated Rex Tillerson to succeed Kerry at the State Department.
Tillerson, who spent his entire career at one company in the oil and gas industry, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate, would become the first secretary of state with no prior government or military experience.
Tillerson is certain to be grilled during his January 11 confirmation hearing about his ties to Putin, about which powerful lawmakers from both parties have expressed concern.
As the chief executive officer of ExxonMobil, Tillerson in 2011 signed a $300 billion agreement with Russia for rights to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean. But Obama administration sanctions imposed against Moscow three year later for the Kremlin’s moves against Ukraine derailed the project.