Donald Trump has upended the lives of many US ambassadors abroad by refusing to grant the traditional grace period after he's inaugurated. Instead, Trump wants all politically appointed ambassadors installed by President Obama to be gone on Jan. 20, the New York Times. Such ambassadors, as opposed to career diplomats, usually depart soon after the president that appointed them, but exceptions have traditionally been made for those with school-age children. US Ambassador to New Zealand Mark Gilbert tells Reuters that he'll be departing Jan. 20 under a Trump mandate issued "without exceptions."
Former US Ambassador to Finland Derek Shearer tells the Times that he doesn't see any good reason for the move, which could leave countries including the UK and Canada without Senate-confirmed ambassadors for months. "It feels like there's an element just of spite and payback in it," he says. "I don't see a higher policy motive." Sources say that American ambassadors in numerous countries are now scrambling to secure visas to allow them and their children, some of whom are just months away from graduating high school, to remain in their host countries until the end of the school year. Some of them are believed to be planning a direct appeal to incoming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Trump also has big changes lined up for the CIA and other intelligence agencies.)