Thomas Shannon was the number three official in the State Department — until he quit in June, joining a growing wave of top diplomats who have departed their posts.
That meant he was at home when President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday and told the world that he trusted Putin’s word over that of the American intelligence community.
“That was distressing,” Shannon told VICE News in his first interview since leaving office. “Because I was part of a larger evaluation of Russian interference, or efforts to interfere, in our election. And I have no doubt about it.”
He added, “In many ways this was kind of a wink heard round the world. Winking at Russian behavior which should not be winked at — it should be called to account.”
Shannon spent more than 34 years in the foreign service, much of it in posts across South and Central America. His retirement, he said, was purely a personal choice.
Meanwhile, his experience at the top level of the Trump administration has left him wary, though not quite ready to declare Trump a threat to the nation, like some of his former colleagues.
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