Since 2013 onwards, starting under the Obama administration and continued the trend under the Trump administration, for the US State Department spokesperson to make some very questionable (and sometimes plain absurd) statements.
The list starts off with Jen Psaki, she served as Department of State spokesperson between February 11th, 2013 and March 31st, 2015. She served under the Obama administration, while US Secretary of State was John Kerry.
Some of her more famous claims are as follows:
Most notably, Psaki warned that “in the event of a Belarusian invasion of Ukraine, the 6th US Fleet will immediately be deployed to the shores of Belarus,” in 2014. The only issue is that Belarus was (and still is) landlocked.
There is also a handy supercut of some of her more interesting claims:
According to her, Russian media “targeted” her, because of her outfits and nothing else.
Following her departure from the seat, she was replaced by Marie Harf, who from June 2013 was Deputy Spokesperson of the State Department. She served under the Obama administration and US Secretary of State John Kerry. She served between March 31st, 2015 and May 13th, 2015.
One of her most famous and ridiculed statements happened in an interview she gave on Hardball with Chris Matthews on February 16th, 2015 shortly before becoming acting spokesperson.
In response to questions related to US strategy against ISIS, Harf said, “We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it’s a lack of opportunity for jobs, whether …” This led to her being ridiculed on social media, with the #JobsForISIS hashtag.
There is also a useful supercut with more of her claims and statements:
Following Harf, retired Rear Admiral John Kirby assumed the role of Department Spokesperson, also under the Obama Administration US Secretary of State John Kerry. He served between May 12th, 2015 – January 20th, 2017
Famously in September 2016, John Kirby told the Syrian army to stop its offensive to liberate Aleppo, Kirby warned Russia that a continuation of the offensive would mean “attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities.” He added that if the war doesn’t stop, Russia would “continue to send troops home in body bags,” and “perhaps even lose aircraft.”
In November 2016, he sharply responded to an RT reporter who asked him to provide basic evidence to back up allegations that Russian forces in Syria deliberately engaged in bombing hospitals. Kirby said that he wasn’t “going to put Russia Today on the same level with the rest of you who are representing independent media outlets,” and incoherently suggested that the RT journalist direct her questions to the Russian Defense Ministry.
In October 2016 he also defended the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, alleging that Saudi Arabia was simply protecting its borders from a possible Houthi attack.
Following Donald Trump’s assumption of the presidential seat, Kirby was let go and he was replaced by Mark Toner, who served as acting Secretary of State Spokesperson between January 20th, 2017 – April 24th, 2017, while Rex Tillerson was US Secretary of State.
Probably the reason why he was simply “acting spokesperson” and the Department of State rushed to appoint a new spokesperson was one situation.
Mexico’s foreign minister, Luis Videgaray, was in Washington. The Los Angeles Times’s Tracy Wilkinson asked State spokesperson Mark Toner what the plans were for his visit. Toner, a highly regarded career foreign service officer, apparently had no idea that a key foreign dignitary was even in the city:
Wowwowwow. State Dep't Acting Spox Mark Toner had zero idea the Mexican foreign minister was in Washington. DoS totally cut out. (!!!) pic.twitter.com/zYclfJIq6q
— Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) March 10, 2017
Following Toner’s short term as acting spokesperson, the post was taken by Heather Nauert, who served between April 24th, 2017 and April 3rd, 2017. Under both Rex Tillerson, and after Trump saw him out – under Mike Pompeo.
One of her most famous embarrassing statements was claiming that D-Day was an example of the US” “strong relationship with the German government.”
“We have a very strong relationship with the government of Germany,” Heather Nauert said.
“Looking back in the history books, today is the 71st anniversary of the speech that announced the Marshall Plan. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the D-Day invasion. We obviously have a very long history with the government of Germany, and we have a strong relationship with the government of Germany.”
It should be reminded, to abolish any confusion, that during the D-Day invasion on June 6th, 1944, around 156,000 British, American, Canadian and other Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy to establish a foothold in Nazi-occupied France.
Dear @StateDept: You have six months to educate Heather Nauert on the history and significance of Pearl Harbor before she cites it as an example of strong US-Japan relations. Get to it – you may need some time to catch her up. #maddow
— Alicia Fox (@aliciafoxrocks) June 7, 2018
She also openly supported the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen in April 2018, while she condemned “Iran’s malign influence” in Yemen.
She was mocked for posting a “touristy” picture outside of a government building in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
In May 2018, Nauert said in response to the Gaza border protests: “We oppose actions against Israel at the International Criminal Court (…) because it does not help the cause for peace.”
She also repeatedly accused Russia and Syria regarding alleged misconduct, without providing any evidence.
Finally, on April 3rd, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the appointment of Morgan Ortagus as Department of State Spokesperson.
Pleased to welcome Morgan Ortagus as our new @statedeptspox. Her experience as an intelligence analyst & public affairs officer in foreign policy & national security will benefit America. She'll lead our fight to communicate & defend US foreign policy. Welcome to our team Morgan. pic.twitter.com/kSqTdPFNzv
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) April 3, 2019
She appears to not be a supporter of Donald Trump, as in 2016 she criticized him over what she called his “isolationist foreign policy approach,” and said Trump is “disgusting” and “not serious.”
Despite that, she typically propagates the idea that the world will “fall apart” if not for the US and its global dominance agenda. At least she claimed that the US shouldn’t be “the policemen of the world.”
“In his gut, he does not think that Americans should be, quote unquote, the policemen of the world,” she said during a panel discussion dissecting Trump’s foreign policy speech.
“I don’t see it that way. I think that America is the glue that holds the world together. … So there were points that I agreed with him today, but overall, I fundamentally disagree with his isolationist approach to foreign policy,” she added.
It is likely that with recent US policy newly appointed spokesperson Morgan Ortagus will get her chance at providing some noteworthy remarks. Time will tell.