by WorldTribune Staff, August 22, 2017
Key members of the team which helped drive Donald Trump to perhaps the biggest election upset in U.S. history were effectively snubbed for key positions on the president’s national security team, Trump campaign aides said.
“Even though President Trump calls the investigations into (Russian) collusion a ‘witch hunt,’ after seeing all the bad publicity surrounding Attorney General Sessions, Gen. Flynn and Jared Kushner, he doesn’t want to take a risk on anyone else who was dragged into the scandal, no matter how unfairly,” J.D. Gordon, a former Pentagon spokesman and full-time Trump campaign adviser, told Pentagon reporter Rowan Scarborough in a report published on Aug. 20.
“It’s a classic Catch-22.”
Gordon said his discussions with the presidential appointments office ended as the Russia scandal went public.
“President Trump, Jared, Ivanka and others in the inner circle showed little to no gratitude to the vast majority of campaign staff and advisers even as they gladly accepted the widespread use of their free labor,” another former Trump campaign staffer said, according to the report in The Washington Times.
Many on the campaign saw the writing on the wall when few of them were chosen for various department transition teams.
The Trump transition office created teams of “beachhead” operatives who would be instantly injected into federal management spots to watch over government until reinforcements — political appointees and secretaries — took over, the report said. Few campaign workers made these teams.
The Pentagon welcomed 24 beachheaders as “special assistants,” according to lists compiled by ProPublica. Only four had campaign connections.
“There was no shortage of people who felt they got screwed over along each stage of the campaign, transition and, in fact, into the administration,” an ex-campaign worker told the Times.
Former Trump campaign aides told the Washington Times they were taken aback when Defense Secretary Jim Mattis pushed the White House to approve Michele Flournoy, a Democrat and Hillary Clinton ally, for the key deputy defense secretary post. Flournoy, who founded the Center for a New American Security, was undersecretary for policy in the Barack Obama era.
For the now-vacant undersecretary post, which oversees policies and war strategies for all U.S. world commands, Mattis selected career diplomat Anne Patterson. The planned nomination was dropped in the face of conservative Senate opposition.
To conservatives the bottom line was this: Mattis wanted to fill two of the most senior executive jobs with a Clinton ally and a moderate diplomat, neither of whom were on record as endorsing the Trump national security agenda.
“The main point is that folks who did zero for the campaign and don’t share the worldview of Trump campaign policies now run the Pentagon, State Department and NSC,” said a former campaign adviser. “And they are doing a great job of keeping out those who did get Trump elected.”
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official and now a Middle East scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said that, in a way, history is repeating itself: Republican presidents surround themselves with non-conservatives.
“Are conservative credentials helping job applicants out?” he said. “No, because the guys on top aren’t really conservative. Trump is more a populist than a conservative. And Mattis’s favorite think tank is [the liberal] Center for American Progress. Nor is McMaster particularly conservative.
“None of this means the principals aren’t serious about national security. The problem is that the people they rely on may not share their agendas. Then again, this is nothing new. Republicans have always been stupid about building their farm teams,” Rubin said.