The former State Department official Michael McKinley leaves a House interview on Thursday.

The former State Department official Michael McKinley leaves a House interview on Thursday. Susan Walsh/AP

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Donald Trump has spent his presidency belittling and attacking career foreign-policy professionals. Now that he’s asking for their loyalty, they don’t seem to feel any.

Donald Trump came into the office without much experience in diplomacy—literal or figurative—but it doesn’t take a career Foreign Service officer to realize that if you spend enough time saying someone is your enemy, that person might begin to feel the same way about you.

From the start of his administration, the president demonized government employees, especially in foreign policy and intelligence. He attacked career officers as part of the “deep state,” discarded their advice, and appointed Cabinet secretaries who alienated them. Now, as an impeachment inquiry rolls forward, Trump is harvesting wind from the ice he sowed. The White House’s attempt at full obstruction of the inquiry has cracked because unlike Trump’s loyalists, career officials and experts have been willing to defy invocations of executive privilege and testify to Congress.

Perhaps no case better exemplifies the way that neglecting and vilifying public servants has backfired than that of Michael McKinley. A career Foreign Service officer, McKinley had served as an ambassador to four countries under Presidents Trump, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush. In 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plucked McKinley from Brasilia, where he was leading the U.S. embassy, to become a senior adviser, especially charged with serving as a conduit between Pompeo and career officers.