Report: Mattis blocked Trump supporters from key Pentagon jobs

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by WorldTribune Staff, December 26, 2018

The Pentagon’s doors may soon swing open to a number of supporters of President Donald Trump who felt they were locked out by departing Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, D.C. insiders say.

“Mattis mostly hired Democrats, so this is an opportunity for a Trump do-over of political appointees at the Pentagon,” tweeted Christian Whiton, a former senior adviser at the State Department. “Would be nice if it happens.”

A former Trump campaign adviser said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis ‘worked hard to keep Trump campaign advisers and surrogates out of the Pentagon while undermining Trump policies all along.’ / AP

In a Dec. 25 report, Washington Times security correspondent Rowan Scarborough quoted a former Trump campaign adviser as saying Mattis “was briefing Hillary during the 2016 campaign and only became a Trump supporter after the election. He then worked hard to keep Trump campaign advisers and surrogates out of the Pentagon while undermining Trump policies all along. I hope he doesn’t let the door hit him on the way out.”

The ex-adviser also said: “General Mattis is a cautionary tale for conservatives thinking about getting involved in 2020 re-election campaign. Numerous advisers who took significant risks in supporting Trump during the 2016 campaign had their lives destroyed by a cast of thousands. Meanwhile, Mattis fought hard to keep them out of the Pentagon, adding insult to injury.”

Scarborough noted that “Insiders say Mattis’s chief of staff, retired Navy Rear Adm. Kevin M. Sweeney, preached a ‘non-political’ Defense Department.”

Mattis reportedly gave Sweeney wide authority over personnel matters. Sweeney’s official Pentagon biography states: “He is responsible for providing counsel and advice to the Secretary on all matters concerning the Department.”

Insiders translated Sweeney’s “non-political” edict “as meaning that Trump campaign people and Republicans on Capitol Hill would have limited access to 160 plum, high-paying appointments,” Scarborough wrote.

Scarborough noted that sources pointed to Michele Flournoy, who was his first choice to be deputy defense secretary, as proof of Mattis’s leanings. Flournoy served as President Barack Obama’s undersecretary of defense for policy and is a Hillary Clinton supporter.

“Yet she was Mattis‘s first choice for the ultra-plum job of deputy defense secretary, to the exclusion of rank-and-file Republicans who had been outside looking in for eight years,” Scarborough wrote.

The job ultimately went to Patrick M. Shanahan, a longtime Boeing executive outside the Republican foreign policy sphere.

Scarborough noted that the Flournoy near-hiring may have contributed to Trump calling Mattis “some sort of a Democrat” on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

A second source, Scarborough said, defended Sweeney. While he stresses a non-political Pentagon, Sweeney has asked for Republican referrals, only to run up against a tide of “Never Trumpers” who would be dead-on-arrival with White House gatekeepers, this source said.

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