John J. Sullivan (diplomat)
John J. Sullivan
|10th United States Ambassador to Russia|
|Assumed office |
February 5, 2020
|Preceded by||Jon Huntsman Jr.|
|19th United States Deputy Secretary of State|
May 24, 2017 – December 20, 2019
|Preceded by||Antony Blinken|
|Succeeded by||Stephen Biegun|
|United States Secretary of State|
April 1, 2018 – April 26, 2018[a]
|Preceded by||Rex Tillerson|
|Succeeded by||Mike Pompeo|
|14th United States Deputy Secretary of Commerce|
March 14, 2008 – January 20, 2009
Acting: September 1, 2007 – March 14, 2008
|President||George W. Bush|
|Preceded by||David A. Sampson|
|Succeeded by||Dennis Hightower|
|General Counsel of the United States Department of Commerce|
July 22, 2005 – March 14, 2008
|President||George W. Bush|
|Preceded by||Theodore Kassinger|
|Succeeded by||Lily Fu Claffee|
John Joseph Sullivan
November 20, 1959
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Education||Brown University (BA)|
Columbia University (JD)
John Joseph Sullivan (born November 20, 1959) is an American attorney and government official serving as the United States Ambassador to Russia, and who previously served as the 19th United States Deputy Secretary of State from 2017 to 2019. A member of the Republican Party, Sullivan served as Acting United States Secretary of State from April 1, 2018, to April 26, 2018, following President Donald Trump's dismissal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on March 13, 2018, until Tillerson's official successor, Mike Pompeo, was sworn in. Tillerson did not officially leave office until March 31, 2018. Sullivan, however, was delegated all responsibilities of the Secretary of State beginning March 13.
Sullivan remained Ambassador to Russia during the presidential transition of Joe Biden. In April 2021, it was reported that Sullivan will continue in as ambassador "for the foreseeable future" in the Biden administration.
Early life and education
Sullivan was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated from Xaverian Brothers High School in 1977. He then received a Bachelor of Arts in history and political science from Brown University in 1981 and a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School in 1985. At Columbia, he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and Book Reviews Editor of the Columbia Law Review. He was a law clerk for Judge John Minor Wisdom of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and for United States Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter during the 1990 Term.
In 1991, Sullivan served as Counselor to Assistant Attorney General J. Michael Luttig in the Office of Legal Counsel of the United States Department of Justice. The next year, he served as Deputy General Counsel of President George H. W. Bush's 1992 re-election campaign.
In 1993, Sullivan joined the Washington, D.C. law firm of Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP, where he practiced Supreme Court law. He was a partner in Mayer Brown's Washington, D.C. office and "co-chair of the firm's National Security practice". His firm biography read:
He also has served as a senior adviser to four presidential campaigns. ... [Sullivan] has focused his practice on the growing intersection of global trade and investment and U.S. national security and foreign policies. He advises CEOs, general counsels, and other senior executives on U.S. sanctions and export controls, international trade disputes and regulation, and foreign investment in the United States, the Middle East, Russia, and other countries. His clients include major oil and gas companies, consulting, accounting, and financial services firms, petrochemical companies, and manufacturers. He has represented these clients before executive departments and agencies of the U.S. and foreign governments, as well as in litigation in the United States, where he has filed briefs and presented oral argument in courts across the country.
The biography also discussed work on client business in Russia, Iran, Cuba and Iraq and "advising a multinational manufacturing company on security policies and risk issues in countries with a high threat of terrorism, violence, and political instability". In the Obama Administration, Sullivan was chairman of the U.S.-Iraq Business Dialogue, "an advisory committee on economic relations between the two countries".
In February 2004, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appointed Sullivan as Deputy General Counsel of the United States Department of Defense. In this capacity, he was responsible for all litigation involving the department and for counsel on major criminal and congressional investigations. During his tenure, he was awarded the Secretary of Defense's Medal for Exceptional Public Service.
Sullivan then moved to the U.S. Department of Commerce, where he served as General Counsel. As the department's chief legal officer and Designated Agency Ethics Official, Sullivan managed the work of over 400 lawyers in the 14 legal offices providing legal advice to all components of the department.
Upon the resignation of Deputy Secretary of Commerce David Sampson, Sullivan was assigned as Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce beginning on September 1, 2007. He was soon thereafter nominated by George W. Bush to serve in a permanent capacity and was sworn in on March 14, 2008, after confirmation by the United States Senate. As the department's chief operating officer, he managed a $6.8 billion budget and 38,000 employees in 13 operating units. He was also a member of President Bush's Management Council and a member of the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
Deputy Secretary of State
President Donald Trump nominated Sullivan to serve as the United States Deputy Secretary of State on April 11, 2017. He was confirmed as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State by the Senate on May 24, 2017, with a vote of 94–6.
United States Ambassador to Russia
After the departure of President Trump in January 2021, incoming President Joe Biden asked Sullivan, along with a small cadre of Trump-appointed ambassadors, to stay on during his term and not tender a resignation, as is custom during a transition. While it was initially reported that this request was presumed to precipitate the careful selection of a new ambassador, the Biden administration has not ruled out asking Sullivan to stay on indefinitely. In April 2021, it was reported that Sullivan will remain in that role "for the foreseeable future".
2021 American-Russian diplomatic crisis
In April 2021, after President Biden announced a new package of sanctions against Russia, Sullivan was summoned to a joint meeting between Vladimir Putin's North America adviser Yuri Ushakov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. At the meeting, the Russian side formally requested that Sullivan go under ambassadorial recall, just as Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov had done weeks earlier. The request was not addressed by Sullivan (diplomatic conventions do not provide for binding recall requests without declaring the diplomat persona non grata). Nevertheless, Sullivan departed Moscow at the end of the month, after pressure continued to be exerted for Sullivan to leave. While the cited reason for Sullivan's return was to see his family (per the State Department's recommendations, American diplomats in Russia are advised to travel without family) and engage in consultations with the incoming administration, experts posited that Sullivan may have been threatened with a declaration of persona non grata.
- Sullivan was delegated all responsibilities from March 13, 2018 until Rex Tillerson's formal departure on March 31, 2018.
- Vitali, Ali; Mitchell, Andrea (March 13, 2018). "Trump fires Rex Tillerson, selects Mike Pompeo as new Secretary of State". NBC News. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
- Fox, Lauren; Walsh, Deirdre; Koran, Laura (April 26, 2018). "Mike Pompeo sworn in as Trump's second secretary of state". CNN. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
- Merica, Dan. "Trump fires Tillerson, taps Pompeo as next secretary of state – CNNPolitics". Cnn.com. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
- "Deputy Secretary of State". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
- "President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate and Appoint Individuals to Key Administration Posts". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved October 15, 2019 – via National Archives.
- "U.S. Senate: U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 116th Congress - 1st Session". www.senate.gov. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
- Kylie Atwood and Kevin Liptak. "Biden keeping Trump's pick for Moscow ambassador in place". CNN. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
- "Nomination ... U.S. Department of Commerce > Biographical Information & FEC Individual Contribution Search", United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, 110th United States Congress, March 13, 2008.
- "Department of Commerce - Deputy Secretary John J. Sullivan". July 20, 2010. Retrieved June 6, 2008.
- "John Sullivan: Partner", mayerbrown.com. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
- "President Donald J. Trump Announces Key Administration Posts". businessinsider.com. Reuters. April 11, 2017.
- "Senate Roll Call vote PN350". United States Senate. May 24, 2017. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
- "Biden Team Asks Trump-Picked Russia Ambassador to Stay in Post". Bloomberg.com. January 18, 2021. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
- Hudson, John (January 21, 2021). "Biden administration to seek five-year extension on key nuclear arms treaty in first foray with Russia". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
- "Russia expels 10 US diplomats as part of retaliation for sanctions". The Guardian. April 16, 2021.
- "US ambassador to leave Moscow as tensions rise". The Guardian. April 20, 2021. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
- John, Sullivan (November 30, 2019). "Statement of John J. Sullivan Nominee to be U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation" (PDF). Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
- Koran, Laura (May 9, 2017). "State Department nominee vows to promote human rights". CNN.
- "Nomination ... U.S. Department of Commerce > Biographical Information & FEC Individual Contribution Search", United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, 110th United States Congress, March 13, 2008. Retrieved April 25, 2019
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