Daniel Kammen resigned from his post as science envoy for the U.S. State Department on Wednesday, writing a letter to President Trump, calling out his weak statements on hatred and racism.
“My decision to resign is in response to your attacks on core values of the United States,” Kammen writes in a message in which the first letter of each paragraph spells out I-M-P-E-A-C-H.
Kammen has served in three federal agencies in the last two decades. He is a UC Berkeley professor who chairs the school’s Energy and Resources Group and has been an ardent supporter of efforts to fight climate change.
But it was Trump’s handling of the violent and deadly rally in Virginia on Aug. 12 that was the last straw for Kammen.
“Your failure to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis has domestic and international ramifications,” he said in the letter. “Particularly troubling to me is how your response to Charlottesville is consistent with a broader pattern of behavior that enables sexism and racism, and disregards the welfare of all Americans, the global community and the planet.”
Kammen has spoken frequently to reporters about efforts to battle global warming. He was interviewed by KQED’s Forum days after the November election about climate change during the Trump administration and in June about the president’s decision to pull out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
“Your decision to abdicate the leadership opportunities and the job creation benefits of the Paris Climate Accord, and to undermine energy and environmental research are not acceptable to me,” his letter states.
Kammen told KQED Wednesday that he began to consider leaving his post after Trump announced his decision on the Paris deal, but his actions after Charlottesville pushed him over the edge.
“It was a building dissatisfaction with what we’re seeing from the White House,” he said in an interview.
His decision to spell out “impeach” in the letter comes a week after all of the members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities resigned, apparently encoding their message as well. The first letter in each of their resignation letters’ paragraphs spells out “resist.”
Kammen said he modeled his letter after that group’s.
“I don’t view what’s coming from Mr. Trump as consistent with what’s in the best interest of this country,” Kammen said. “I’m calling, in my capacity as a citizen, for him to be impeached.”
His resignation came the same morning Trump defended his actions on Charlottesville.
“Last night in Phoenix I read the things from my statements on Charlottesville that the Fake News Media didn’t cover fairly. People got it!” Trump tweeted.
Last night in Phoenix I read the things from my statements on Charlottesville that the Fake News Media didn’t cover fairly. People got it!
During the Phoenix rally he again read a portion of his statement and made fun of criticism that he did not respond fast enough to the violence in Charlottesville.
A State Department representative called Kammen’s resignation “a personal decision.”
“We appreciate his dedicated service to U.S. scientific diplomacy during his appointment working on energy efficiency and renewable energy in Africa as a science envoy,” said Pooja Jhunjhunwala, a State Department spokeswoman.
But one of the region’s leading Republican activists did not hold back criticism of Kammen’s decision.
“Kammen’s letter is a word salad of politically correct jargon and shows that he cares more about indulging his political opinions than helping the Third World countries who have benefited from his work on energy issues,” said Harmeet Dhillon, Republican National Committeewoman from California.
“It’s better for the country and the planet that he be replaced with a scientist who is more concerned about the job at hand, not scoring cheap political points such as his juvenile ‘hidden’ message,” said Dhillon, who is also a lawyer representing Berkeley College Republicans in a lawsuit against UC Berkeley, saying it discriminates against conservative speakers.
“Sadly, this is the type of sophistry and lack of perspective that we have come to expect from our UC professors,” she said.
Kammen’s job was to work with Middle Eastern and African governments on sustainable energy issues. He said that while he was unhappy with the Trump White House, he stayed on after the election to keep up those efforts.
“I found the people I worked with within the State Department to be fabulous,” Kammen said. “But they’re not being supported from the top and their mission to invest in clean energy, green jobs is increasingly inconsistent with what we’re seeing out of the White House.”
Read the letter below.
UC Berkeley professor resigns from his position as science envoy for the Department of State of the United States.