Trump Appointee Who Compiled Loyalty List at U.N. and State Steps Down

Mari Stull faced investigations from an internal watchdog and a House committee.

By Robbie Gramer, a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy, and Colum Lynch
The General Assembly Hall of the United Nations is seen from the floor May 12, 2006 at the United Nations headquarters in New York. (Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
The General Assembly Hall of the United Nations is seen from the floor May 12, 2006 at the United Nations headquarters in New York. (Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

A top Trump appointee at the center of federal probes for retaliating against career civil servants not deemed loyal enough to the president is leaving her post at the State Department, three current and former U.S. officials tell Foreign Policy.

Mari Stull, a senior advisor for the bureau that oversees U.S. relations with international organizations, stepped down on Jan. 11 as the State Department’s internal watchdog was finalizing a report into politically motivated reprisals against career officials at the department.

The move comes as Democrats in the House Foreign Affairs Committee are laying the groundwork for public hearings on the political targeting of career officials deemed insufficiently loyal to President Donald Trump. They are expected to scrutinize Stull’s tenure at State.

Stull, a former food and beverage lobbyist, had limited diplomatic experience before she was appointed in April 2018 as a senior political advisor.

In less than a year on the job, Stull established herself as one of the more influential—and controversial—political appointees in the State Department.

From her perch in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, she championed hard-line White House positions on a range of issues: opposing refugee resettlement, curtailing sexual reproductive rights, and advocating steep cuts in funding for United Nations programs.

She has also sought to vet career diplomats and American employees of international institutions to see whether they share the political vision of the president, according to current and former officials.

Stull did not respond to request for comment or interview. The State Department did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Stull has been plotting her exit from the international organizations bureau for months, the officials said. She had shown interest in a top job at the National Security Council overseeing multilateral affairs. But that job went to another Trump loyalist, Elizabeth Erin Walsh. 

It remains unclear what Stull will do next.

One well-placed official said that Kevin Moley, the bureau’s assistant secretary of state and a close ally of Stull’s, had been trying to place her somewhere else in government or find her a job in an international or regional organization.

A State Department official said that Stull “concluded her tenure at the State Department on January 11, and we understand has accepted a new position outside of government. We appreciate her service to the Department and contributions to U.S. international engagement.”

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the State Department “will fully cooperate” with any investigations into alleged political retaliation against career diplomats.

Politico was first to report her exiting the department on Tuesday.

In past months, the State Department has denied repeated requests by journalists to interview Stull. She has not responded to past requests from FP for comment but gave an interview to the website last year in which she called FP’s initial reporting “a hit piece written in consort with leakers who want to malign this President and anyone associated with the Administration.” She added: “And if they can destroy a woman’s reputation, so much the better.”

Update, Jan. 15, 2018: This story was updated with comment from a State Department official.

Robbie Gramer is a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @RobbieGramer

Colum Lynch is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @columlynch