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The Anatomy Of A Trump Administration Resignation Letter

In Washington, only a tiny fraction of bureaucrats quit their jobs in a blaze of glory. Here's how the rest do it.

Posted on August 7, 2017, at 5:28 p.m. ET

On Friday, George Selim, a federal bureaucrat in charge of combating violent extremism, quit his job after a rocky tenure in the Trump administration.


For years, Selim, a director at the Department of Homeland Security, built relationships with Muslim community leaders as part of the federal government's programs to combat violent extremism. The idea was for the federal government to support local initiatives to prevent children and young adults from being recruited and radicalized by violent extremist groups, such as ISIS.

When President Trump came into office, he installed political appointees who clashed with Selim and questioned the value of his work, people familiar with matter told BuzzFeed News.

Alex Wong / Getty Images

Trump officials including Sebastian Gorka, his wife Katie Gorka, and John Barsa wanted to focus federal government efforts more closely on the ideology of Islam. They viewed Obama-era terms like "Countering Violent Extremism" (CVE) as a politically correct substitute for calling out the real problem: radical Islam.

So Selim decided to resign, but before he could formally announce his decision, one of his colleagues leaked the story to a conservative news outlet that called him an "Obama administration holdover known for engaging fringe Islamic radicals."

Conservative Review / Via Conservative Review

In fact, Selim is a Republican who previously worked under George W. Bush's secretary of homeland security, Michael Chertoff.

Some of Selim's colleagues expected a fiery resignation letter that would take names and settle scores.


But this is Washington, DC, and that's not how it works.

Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

The resignation letter, obtained by BuzzFeed News, is heavy on the Washington speak and betrays very little of the tension that existed between Selim and his new colleagues over the last six months. So we decided to decode it for you.

BuzzFeed News; Getty Images

The first thing Selim makes clear is that he quit — he wasn't fired. So point #1: "No one's forcing me to do this."

#2: "I'm not a left-wing Obama patsy. I've worked across the aisle for years."

In reality, Selim's work sometimes angered Muslim Americans who felt explicitly targeted by the Department of Homeland Security for their religion. His work also had the support of Republicans in the George W. Bush administration and only recently came under suspicion, he told The Atlantic last week. “There were clearly political appointees in this administration who didn’t see the value of community partnerships with American Muslims," Selim said.

#3: "I actually got a lot done here. Really!"

#4: "Please, don't undo everything after I leave."

A major accomplishment for Selim came in July when when DHS awarded 26 grants totaling $10 million to universities, local law enforcement agencies, and state and local governments working on terrorism prevention. Though DHS took flack for ending grants to programs working against right-wing extremism, many CVE advocates had previously feared all the programs would be cut. Now, with the "unbridled support" of his colleagues, Selim is encouraging them to support the grants they secured.

#5: "I repeat, I was not fired."

Just so we're clear.

#6: "I'm out, ya'll."

The resignation letter version of signing, "Have a good summer!"


You can read Selim's full resignation letter here:

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.