The U.S. State Department published a bizarre notice on its website Monday saying President Trump’s term was expiring a full nine days ahead of schedule. The notice gave rise to speculation that… something was going on at the agency. What, no one could be sure.
For at least an hour, the State Department’s biography page for Donald J. Trump claimed his presidency is ending in matter of hours, at approximately 5:40 p.m. ET. (Other versions of the page gave different times.)
The same page later redirected to a 404 page saying the site was “currently experiencing technical difficulties.”
Half the planet just went to the State Department website then checked their watch.
— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) January 11, 2021
Really excited for my first day as webmaster for the US State Department. Now to take a big sip of coffee and see what everybody is talking about
— Brandon Wall (@Walldo) January 11, 2021
If you click the State Department link you die in 7 days.
— Rebecca Fishbein (@bfishbfish) January 11, 2021
It was not immediately clear what the hell was going on.
BuzzFeed News, citing “two current-serving diplomats with knowledge of the situation,” reported the erroneous notice was the result of a disgruntled employee. A source told the site that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had ordered an investigation into the matter, starting with employees and interns exiting the department this week.
An agency spokesperson did not respond to multiple requests for comment. We’ll update if they do.