State Dept Official Sacked After Pushing Illegal Fast-Tracking of Saudi Arms Sales

Former Raytheon lobbyist pushed effort to circumvent Congress on Raytheon's sales

The resignation of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charles Faulkner last month appears to have been less a resignation and more of a sacking, according to officials familiar with the situation.

Faulkner, a former Raytheon lobbyist turned Trump appointee, was spearheading the administration’s scheme to declare a phony “state of emergency” to avoid Congressional oversight on arms sales. In this case, the arms sales included billions from his former employer, Raytheon.

Faulkner’s role in this decision cannot be overstated, and since Congress started moving to restrict sales to the Saudis he had been one of the lone voices in the State Department urging Pompeo to sign off on sales, as well as being a heavy advocate of skirting oversight.

Though officials state that Faulkner was planning to resign from his post soon, they seem to have decided to spin it as a resignation, they also say his departure was related to his work on Raytheon-related arms deals.

This is expected to be a major topic of discussion next week when Congress takes up the matter of the arms sales, and the State Department’s role in them. Congressional aides suggest Faulkner’s former employment with Raytheon and his role in decision-making on their sales appear particularly problematic.

Potentially, Faulkner’s actions also run afoul of an ethics pledge he was required to sign as a Trump appointee. This pledge bans former lobbyists, like Faulkner, from working on issues “directly or substantially related” to former clients. This is exactly what he did.

This gives the entire affair a particularly crooked appearance, and could be big in the Senate in particular, where indications are that all Democrats, Democrat-leaning Independents, and three Republicans (Sens. Paul, Graham, and Young) are opposing the arms sales to the Saudis. Only one more Republican would be needed to turn the vote against the sale. Faulkner’s activities could easily convince one or more Republicans to switch sides on the issue.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.