Senior Trump official embellished résumé, put face on fake Time magazine cover
A senior Trump administration official has embellished her résumé with misleading claims about her professional background — even creating a fake Time magazine cover with her face on it — raising questions about her qualifications to hold a top position at the State Department.
An NBC News investigation found that Mina Chang, the deputy assistant secretary in the State Department's Bureau of Conflict and Stability Operations, has inflated her educational achievements — like claiming, falsely, to be a Harvard grad — and exaggerated the scope of her nonprofit's work.
Whatever her qualifications, Chang had a key connection in the Trump administration. Brian Bulatao, a top figure in the State Department and longtime friend of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, attended a fundraiser for her nonprofit in Dallas and once donated $5,500 to her charity, according to a former colleague of Chang's.
Chang, who assumed her post in April, also invented a role on a U.N. panel, claimed she had addressed both the Democratic and Republican national conventions, and implied she had testified before Congress.
She was being considered for an even bigger government job, one with a budget of more than $1 billion, until Congress started asking questions about her résumé.
The gap between Chang's actual qualifications and her claims appears to be the latest example of lax vetting by the Trump administration, which has become known for its many job vacancies and appointments made without thorough screening.
"It does seem that this administration has not been doing the same depth of vetting as previous administrations," said James Pfiffner, a George Mason University professor and expert on the executive branch who once worked in the government's Office of Personnel Management, which does vetting.
In her State Department post, Chang, 35, from Dallas, helps oversee efforts to prevent conflicts from erupting in politically unstable countries. She earns a six-figure salary in a bureau with a $6 million budget. A deputy assistant secretary usually has a top secret security clearance. It's not clear if Chang has such a clearance.
In a 2017 video posted on her nonprofit's website, Chang can be heard describing her work while a Time magazine cover with her face on it scrolls past.
"Here you are on Time magazine, congratulations! Tell me about this cover and how it came to be?" asks the interviewer, who hosts a YouTube show.
"Well, we started using drone technology in disaster response and so that was when the whole talk of how is technology being used to save lives in disaster response scenarios, I suppose I brought some attention to that," Chang said.
The interviewer says Chang brought the Time cover to the interview as an example of her work.
Time magazine spokesperson Kristin Matzen said the cover is "not authentic."
Read more at NBCNews.com.