David Rank, top U.S. diplomat, on why he resigned to protest Trump


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The former chargé d’affaires of America’s Beijing embassy explains what went through his head on the day that Trump made his Paris announcement.

David Rank became the leading diplomat for one of America’s most important embassies during the transition when Iowa governor Terry Branstad formally succeeded former Montana senator Max Baucus as U.S. ambassador to China on May 24, 2017.

He soon found himself in a moral quandary: Carry out what he believed to be a deeply misguided order from the president of the United States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change, or resign in protest. He chose the latter, becoming the highest-ranking State Department official to do so — thus far — under the Trump administration.

Kaiser met with Dave in his home in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., to better understand his reaction to Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Dave also discussed the current state of U.S.-China diplomacy, and looked ahead at how the two countries might work together in the future.


Dave: The Maine Woods, by Henry David Thoreau, gives an inside look at both the author’s famed advocacy of rugged individualism and the remarkable transformation of 19th-century America due to the Protestant work ethic and the new industrial economy.

Kaiser: Little Soldiers: An American Boy, a Chinese School, and the Global Race to Achieve, by Lenora Chu, is set for release in September, but you can pre-order this well-written exploration of China’s educational system now.