WASHINGTON – One of the U.S. State Department’s science envoys publicly resigned on Wednesday, the latest in a wave of defections over President Donald Trump’s response to a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Daniel Kammen, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a letter posted on his Twitter account that Trump had failed to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis, part of “a broader pattern of behavior that enables sexism and racism, and disregards the welfare of all Americans, the global community and the planet.”
Trump told reporters last week that “both sides” were to blame for the violence between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Virginia on Aug. 12, and said there were “very fine people” among those who participated in the white nationalist rally.
At a rally in Arizona on Tuesday, Trump defended his response and said the news media had ignored his condemnation of white supremacists.
Envoys serve as unpaid volunteers and engage with government and nongovernment science officials and convene meetings around foreign policy and science.
In his letter, Kammen also criticized Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Climate Accord. The first letters of each paragraph in his letter spelled out the word “IMPEACH.”
Kammen, the White House and the State Department did not respond to requests for comment.
The science envoy position is not particularly high-profile. The envoys — drawn from the ranks of American scientists and scholars — typically serve for one year, so Kammen was likely nearing the end of his term.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Kammen served as an envoy since August 2016.
Two of the other six envoys listed on an archived State Department website as being in Kammen’s cohort told Reuters their terms had ended prior to Trump taking office.
Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, served as envoy in 2015 and 2016 and said he has been in contact with the State Department about possibly returning. He would be willing to do so even after Trump’s post-Charlottesville statements, he told Reuters on Wednesday.
“Despite those comments I think it’s important to be willing to serve the United States,” Hotez said.
Trump’s comments in response to the protests sparked a wave of defections of American chief executives last week from White House advisory councils, leading to their disbanding, and earned condemnations from Republicans and Democrats alike.