President Donald Trump seemingly has no lack of outside influences that feed into his decision-making, from the whims of his favorite child Ivanka Trump to talking points on Fox News.
Now it appears that the latest influential factor is conservative media outlets, as recently the Trump administration has reassigned a government employee after she was targeted by Breitbart News, a far-right website.
The news articles called Sahar Nowrouzzadeh — a civil service employee — a loyalist to former President Barrack Obama and questioned whether she should remain in her position. The website also mentioned her past links to the National Iranian American Council, an advocacy group that has come under criticism from the right.
Nowrouzzadeh was instrumental in shaping the controversial Iran nuclear deal, which was heavily criticized by many Republicans.
She was also handling ongoing issues related to Iran and Gulf Arab countries. Her year-long assignment was cut short earlier this month and now she has returned to the Office of Iranian Affairs. But after the attacks by Breitbart, her new role remains unknown.
According to State Department officials she was shifted because of the media attacks. “It puts people on edge,” said a State Department official familiar with Nowrouzzadeh’s situation.
Considering the fact that Steve Bannon, who now has Trump’s ear, was the executive chair of Breitbart, it is not far-fetched to think Breitbart’s opinions would matter to Trump.
A statement released by the department noted that Nowrouzzadeh “has an outstanding reputation in the department and we expect her to continue to do valuable work in furtherance of U.S. national security. We’ll decline additional comment on the internal [human resources] matters of career employees.”
“Nowrouzzadeh is very smart, deeply knowledgeable about Iran,” said Philip Gordon, who served as a top Middle East adviser to Obama and who has publicly defended Nowrouzzadeh in the past.
He further added, “Like many civil service experts and career foreign service officers, she possesses just the sort of expertise political leaders from either party should have by their side when they make critical and difficult foreign policy decisions.”
Gordon further said, “If people writing these pieces are not happy with the Trump foreign policy that may be because the president and vice president and cabinet officers decided not to do things that are not in their interest. If Donald Trump hasn’t torn up the Iran nuclear deal, it may be because he realized that would be a bad idea. And it’s not because one of his policy planning staffers has a family of Iranian origin.”
And Nowrouzzadeh is not the only government employee that Breitbart News has targeted.
Previously, Andrew Quinn, who had been appointed to the National Economic Council, was being sent back to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Far right media, including Breitbart News, noted that he had helped the Obama administration negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal from which Trump has withdrawn the U.S.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Creative Commons, Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson