White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the special U.S. envoy who resigned in protest Thursday over the administration’s decision to deport Haitian migrants had “harmful” ideas about promoting democracy in the country.
Ms. Psaki said administration officials didn’t ignore the advice of special U.S. envoy Daniel Foote, but believed his ideas weren’t any good.
“His positions … and his views were put forward,” Ms. Psaki told reporters. “They were valued. They were heard. Different policy decisions were made in some circumstances.”
Declining to explain further, she said, “Some of the proposals were harmful to the commitment to the promotion of democracy in Haiti.”
Earlier in the day, Mr. Foote, the top U.S. diplomat to Haiti, resigned and called the administration’s effort to deport hundreds of Haitian immigrants back to their own country “inhumane” and “deeply flawed.”
Mr. Foote insisted that his suggestions were brushed aside by officials in Washington.
“Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed and my recommendations have been ignored and dismissed when not edited to project a narrative different from my own,” he wrote in his resignation.
Ms. Psaki said Mr. Foote’s ideas were considered in a “rigorous policy” debate, but State Department officials decided they were unworkable.
“There are disagreements in these policy processes and the president welcomes that,” she said. “The Secretary of State welcomes that. That’s certainly part of having discussions and having robust discussions about the best path forward for difficult circumstances.”
In a statement, State Department spokesman Ned Price pushed back sharply on Mr. Foote’s assertion that his recommendations were dismissed out of hand, saying the envoy “failed to take advantage of ample opportunity to raise concerns about migration during his tenure and chose to resign instead.”
Mr. Price backed up Ms. Psaki’s account, saying the envoy’s ideas weren’t any good.
“For him to say his proposals were ignored is simply false,” Mr. Price said. “I’m not going to parse the contents of his resignation letter, but I do want to emphasize that we have active policy debates in this administration on a number of issues. The role of the president’s cabinet and his advisers is to provide the president with the best advice possible. No ideas are ignored, but not all ideas are good ideas.”