David Glaccum, the chief of staff for Nikki Haley, America’s envoy to the United Nations, is leaving the New York office to move to Washington, D.C., where he will apparently continue working for Haley as a senior adviser based in the State Department. His move will allow him to be closer to his family, which never left its home base in South Carolina after Glaccum took the job with Haley in New York, according to people knowledgeable about the situation, speaking off the record.
When asked for confirmation, a person answering the phone in Haley’s office in New York referred PassBlue to the press office of the United States mission to the UN, which did not respond to an email, even though the American public has a right to know who is working for Haley at taxpayers’ expense. It is unclear who will be the next chief of staff, her third since she became ambassador in February 2017, appointed by Donald Trump.
Glaccum’s Twitter page is private; his LinkedIn page states that he became Haley’s chief of staff in August 2017, after being the deputy from January 2017. He was chief of staff for Haley when she was governor of South Carolina for six months, right before she became ambassador to the UN. Glaccum was chief counsel for another South Carolina politician and Republican, Senator Lindsey Graham, based in Washington, from June 2013 to August 2015.
Glaccum, who is in his early 30s, has been a regular presence at UN Security Council meetings as part of Haley’s entourage, usually wearing a small American flag pinned to one of his lapels. He has a law degree from the University of South Carolina and a bachelor’s degree in culinary management from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
His leaving the US Mission in New York is happening as some former staff members there have observed a high turnover among foreign career service personnel as well as political appointees, although attrition occurs during any ambassador’s tenure. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent lifting of a hiring freeze in the State Department could open positions in the US mission that have been vacant for at least a year.
Recently, Jonathan R. Cohen of California was sworn in as the deputy representative of the US to the UN, with rank of ambassador. Cohen is a member of the Foreign Service, having served as a diplomat since 1986. He was most recently deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs. He has also served as deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Baghdad and as acting deputy chief of mission in Paris, among other posts. Cohen has an A.B. from Princeton University. He also studied at Georgetown University and at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Last year, Glaccum was said by a few Washington commentators to be Haley’s “most influential adviser” at the UN mission. How his departure from New York will change that influence is also unclear. Haley’s most prominent appointee in Washington is Jon Lerner, her deputy; he worked for Haley in South Carolina as well, ever since she first ran for governor in 2010. In April, Lerner was slated to work as national security adviser to Vice President Pence while carrying out his role with Haley, though that plan was scrapped when Trump found out about it.
Glaccum, Haley and others in her inner circle at the UN mission — past and present — have been singled out by American Oversight, an independent watchdog group, which is seeking records, through the Freedom of Information Act, to potentially “shed light on how Ambassador Haley and her staff communicate with journalists and media outlets, including communications that concern important matters of U.S. foreign policy.”
Haley rarely speaks to the national and international media based at the UN; instead, she appears on network and cable TV shows, promoting Trump’s messaging — to some extent.
Her relationship with Trump’s new national security adviser, John Bolton, has been a steady alliance since she became ambassador, and some people suggest he has been counseling her since her arrival at the UN, including advocating to leave the Human Rights Council; forcing UN Secretary-General António Guterres to be more of a chief executive and less a diplomat; threatening to cut not only the annual UN peacekeeping budget by several percentage points but also the UN general operating budget; and endorsing the withdrawal of the US from the Iran nuclear deal.
Haley’s connection to Pompeo, the new secretary of state, seems more remote than her interactions with Bolton, as Pompeo is taking a more traditional role as head of the State Department, of which the US mission is part. Rex Tillerson, the former secretary of state who was fired by Trump, had nearly absconded his job as boss of Haley’s operation in New York, enabling her to be more independent, but that freedom seems to be waning.
Haley does not appear to be playing a major role in the planned summit with the US and North Korea this month and was not part of the US celebratory party in Jerusalem, when the US officially marked its move to that city in May.
Haley’s previous chief of staff, Steven Groves, and her director of communications, Jonathan Wachtel, both left the US mission in August 2017. Wachtel had a seven-month tenure and left for family reasons, according to media reports. Groves, who had worked for 10 years at the conservative-minded Heritage Foundation before his job with Haley, became deputy to Ty Cobb, the White House special counsel, who until recently was handling the response to the Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. He left May 2.
Dulcie Leimbach is a co-founder of PassBlue. For PassBlue and other publications, she has reported from New York and overseas from West Africa (Burkina Faso and Mali) and from Europe (Scotland, Sicily, Vienna, Budapest, Kyiv, Armenia, Iceland and The Hague). She has provided commentary on the UN for BBC World Radio, ARD German TV and Radio, NHK’s English channel, Background Briefing with Ian Masters/KPFK Radio in Los Angeles and the Foreign Press Association.
Previously, she was an editor for the Coalition for the UN Convention Against Corruption; from 2008 to 2011, she was the publications director of the United Nations Association of the USA. Before UNA, Leimbach was an editor at The New York Times for more than 20 years, editing and writing for most sections of the paper, including the Magazine, Book Review and Op-Ed. She began her reporting career in small-town papers in San Diego, Calif., and near Boulder, Colo., graduating to the Rocky Mountain News in Denver and then working in New York at The Times. Leimbach has been a fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center’s Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies as well as at Yaddo, the artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; taught news reporting at Hofstra University; and guest-lectured at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the CUNY Journalism School. She graduated from the University of Colorado and has an M.F.A. in writing from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.