Archive for the ‘Trump appointments’ category

The CIA’s affront to Trump

February 16, 2017

The CIA’s affront to Trump, Washington Times, Angelo M. Codevilla, February 16, 2017

(It is absurd for the CIA to have control over whom President Trump can appoint to the National Security Council by refusing — for no stated or apparent reason — to grant the required security clearance. — DM)

ciatrumpstrumpCIA Bullies Trump Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The CIA has denied a security clearance to Trump National Security Council (NSC) official Robin Townley without any allegation, much less evidence of disloyalty to the United States. Quite simply, it is because the CIA disapproves of Mr. Townley’s attitude toward the agency, and this is unprecedented. President Trump appointed Mr. Townley to coordinate Africa policy at the NSC. The CIA did not want to deal with him. Hence, it used the power to grant security clearances to tell the president to choose someone acceptable to the agency, though not so much to him. This opens a larger issue: Since no one can take part in the formulation or execution of foreign or defense policy without a high-level security clearance, vetoing the president’s people by denying them clearances trumps the president.

Hence, if Mr. Trump does not fire forthwith the persons who thus took for themselves the prerogative that the American people had entrusted to him at the ballot box, chances are 100 percent that they will use that prerogative ever more frequently with regard to anyone else whom they regard as standing in the way of their preferred policies, as a threat to their reputation, or simply as partisan opponents. If Mr. Trump lets this happen, he will have undermined nothing less than the self-evident heart of the Constitution’s Article II: The president is the executive branch. All of its employees draw their powers from him and answer to him, not the other way around.

Using security clearances for parochial purposes — usually petty ones — while neglecting security, never mind counterintelligence, is an old story at the CIA which I got to know too well during eight years overseeing the agency as the designee of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s budget chairman. Because I did my quality control job vigorously, and because I placed on the budget cut list some of the many outside contracts that seemed corrupt, the agency made repeated attempts to withdraw my top-level, cross-cutting security clearances. After I left the Senate staff for Stanford, when the Naval Postgraduate School asked me to teach a highly classified course on signals intelligence, the school’s security office asked the CIA for my clearances. The bureaucrats there said they had never heard of me. I had to call Director of Central Intelligence Bill Casey, who ended up phoning them in personally to a startled Navy chief.

The CIA uses pretense about security to insulate itself from criticism, to protect its own, and to intrude into policymaking. Security against foreign intelligence ranks low in its priorities. For near a decade, its bureaucrats refused to look into obvious evidence that their own Aldrich Ames had sold out America’s entire agent network in the Soviet Union. Moreover, according to its inspector general, they continued to pass reports from that network to the president because they happened to agree with the direction in which these KGB-produced reports were pushing U.S. policy. The CIA also uses secrecy to avoid responsibility. It crafts the conclusions of its reports specifically to be leaked to The New York Times and The Washington Post, while making sure that the thin or nonexistent facts behind those conclusions never see the light of day.

The CIA’s denial of a clearance to a presidential appointee minus good cause, however, breaks new ground and shows truly revolutionary boldness. Traditionally, bureaucrats have used sticks and carrots to convince political appointees to play along lest they suffer unpleasantness. Thus, presidents have ended up having to choose between suffering appointees who have “gone native” or replacing them. Now, the CIA’s denial of Mr. Townley’s clearance removes all subtlety by demanding that Mr. Trump appoint only “natives.” If Mr. Trump indulges that demand for self-emasculation, the message will go out to all agencies: They need pay no attention to what political appointees tell them, and they need fear no retribution for this or for pressuring appointees in any way they want. The message to the people who Mr. Trump has appointed or who are considering working for Mr. Trump is just as clear: You have no choice but to make yourself acceptable to the bureaucrats because, if you don’t, they will hurt you and the president will not help you. This cannot help but skew the pool of potential members of the Trump administration.

We cannot know nor does it matter why Donald Trump seems to be deferring to bureaucrats who have gone out of their way to delegitimize him. But we can be certain about the kind of dynamic engendered by deference in the face of assaults.

Special Report | Out Like Flynn

February 15, 2017

Special Report | Out Like Flynn, American SpectatorScott Mckay, February 15, 2017

(Apparently, General Flynn’s knowledge of and access to Obama’s secret agreements with Iran were a major reason why the “deep state” wanted him out. No longer a member of the National Security Council, he likely lacks access. Is there any reason he can’t tell selected members of the Council what and where they are? — DM)

outlikeflynn

Which gives rise to the mistake which ultimately cost him his job — pressed about the conversation, Flynn told Vice President Mike Pence that he and Kislyak did not discuss the lifting of Obama administration sanctions against Russia, which was apparently true. What Flynn had discussed, per an interview he did with the Daily Caller before he was forced out, was the status of the 35 Russian diplomats Obama had expelled from the country. He contends Kislyak raised the issue and was told it would be reviewed after the inauguration — but he made no promises to the Russian.

The expulsions were considered part of the sanctions, and therefore Flynn’s representation to Pence would go down as inaccurate — and the resulting media scandal following Pence’s reliance on Flynn’s statements to pass the adviser’s contention on in a TV interview ultimately made Flynn too hot to handle.

There should be no holdovers from the Obama administration left in the federal government beyond what the law forces on the president.

Which includes the CIA, NSA, and other agencies clearly infested with Harkonnens seeking to impose the same fate on Trump and his administration which befell Duke Leto Atreides.

All new administrations, particularly those taking over from predecessors in the opposite party, will struggle to find loyal servants within the bowels of the federal government. But no administration has politicized the bureaucracy and the intelligence community the way Obama did, and the government has never been so corrupted as it is now. The political assassination of Mike Flynn proves that, and Flynn will certainly not be the last. This administration is in a death struggle with the deep state, and only one will survive.

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If there is truth to the stories about the intelligence community’s campaign to force the resignation of Trump’s national security advisor, his should be the first of countless heads to roll.

“House Atreides took control of Arrakis 63 standard days into the year 10,191. It was known that the Harkonnens, the former rulers of Arrakis, would leave many suicide troops behind. Atreides patrols were doubled.”

— From the 1984 David Lynch movie Dune, as adapted from the Fran Herbert novel.

You’ve got to read, if you haven’t yet, the piece by Adam Kredo in the Washington Free Beacon about the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Michael Flynn on Monday.

Kredo weaves together the statements of several confidential sources to create an alarming tapestry that views not unlike the classic 1980s sci-fi film referenced above — it seems reasonably clear that leftovers from the Obama administration are actively sabotaging the new president.

A quick excerpt or two…

The effort, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes—the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber—included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn’s credibility, multiple sources revealed.

The operation primarily focused on discrediting Flynn, an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, in order to handicap the Trump administration’s efforts to disclose secret details of the nuclear deal with Iran that had been long hidden by the Obama administration.

Kredo’s piece isn’t the only one pointing to Iran as the real enemy of interest here rather than Russia. It’s worth watching Obama’s fundraising for his presidential library and other “philanthropic” activities with interest in the identities of his benefactors.

And there’s more…

“It’s actually Ben Rhodes, NIAC, and the Iranian mullahs who are celebrating today,” said one veteran foreign policy insider who is close to Flynn and the White House. “They know that the number one target is Iran… [and] they all knew their little sacred agreement with Iran was going to go off the books. So they got rid of Flynn before any of the [secret] agreements even surfaced.”

Flynn had been preparing to publicize many of the details about the nuclear deal that had been intentionally hidden by the Obama administration as part of its effort to garner support for the deal, these sources said.

Flynn is now “gone before anybody can see what happened” with these secret agreements, said the second insider close to Flynn and the White House.

Sources in and out of the White House are concerned that the campaign against Flynn will be extended to other prominent figures in the Trump administration.

Read the whole thing. It’s well worth your time.

But let’s understand what actually happened here. Yes, Mike Flynn had a conversation with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Dec. 29 regarding American policy toward that country. Yes, there is an ancient and little-known piece of legislation, the Logan Act, which makes it illegal for private citizens to conduct foreign policy, and yes, that law was put forth to justify accusations Flynn had committed a crime in his conversation with Kislyak.

But as a national security advisor designate it’s hardly realistic to have considered Flynn a private citizen, and he wasn’t going to be charged with anything for that conversation. Which gives rise to the mistake which ultimately cost him his job — pressed about the conversation, Flynn told Vice President Mike Pence that he and Kislyak did not discuss the lifting of Obama administration sanctions against Russia, which was apparently true. What Flynn had discussed, per an interview he did with the Daily Caller before he was forced out, was the status of the 35 Russian diplomats Obama had expelled from the country. He contends Kislyak raised the issue and was told it would be reviewed after the inauguration — but he made no promises to the Russian.

The expulsions were considered part of the sanctions, and therefore Flynn’s representation to Pence would go down as inaccurate — and the resulting media scandal following Pence’s reliance on Flynn’s statements to pass the adviser’s contention on in a TV interview ultimately made Flynn too hot to handle.

But this goes far beyond the Beltway scandal machine which is now running at top gear after largely idling for the past eight years spitting out its first Trump administration victim. What blew Flynn out of the water were leaks from the intelligence community — his conversation with Kislyak was recorded by the FBI, pursuant to a FISA warrant which had to come from the highest levels, possibly high enough to have reached Obama himself, and then a transcript was provided to the media in order to refute Flynn’s contention he hadn’t discussed the sanctions.

Mike Walsh called this troubling pattern a “rolling coup attempt, organized by elements of the intelligence community, particularly CIA and NSA, abetted by Obama-era holdovers in the understaffed Justice Department (Sally Yates, take a bow) and the lickspittles of the leftist media, all of whom have signed on with the ‘Resistance’ in order to overturn the results of the November election.”

He’s not wrong. He goes further and is also not wrong…

Welcome to the Deep State, the democracy-sapping embeds at the heart of our democracy who have not taken the expulsion of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party lightly. They realize that the Trump administration poses a mortal threat to their hegemony, and so have enlisted an army of Democrats, some Republicans, the “neverTrumpumpkin” conservative die-hards, leftist thugs, Black Lives Matter and anybody else they can blackmail, browbeat or enlist. They mean business.

What to do if you’re Trump? Fight.

It’s not enough to send Sean Spicer out to complain about the leaks, or to back his press conference statements up with early-morning tweets.

He must fight.

Trump clearly has not taken the sound advice of any executive engaged in a hostile takeover of a large organization — which is to fire everyone. There should be no holdovers from the Obama administration left in the federal government beyond what the law forces on the president.

Which includes the CIA, NSA, and other agencies clearly infested with Harkonnens seeking to impose the same fate on Trump and his administration which befell Duke Leto Atreides.

Trump went to Langley and spoke about inaugural crowds, and received warm applause from some of the same people concocting schemes to destroy his presidency. That was a mistake, and it must be recognized as such. Trump is late in drumming Obama’s people out of the government, and those people are now a cancer on his administration. He must clean out the intelligence community and the rest of the deep state, and he must drain the swamp in Washington. And he’s in a race against time in doing so.

All new administrations, particularly those taking over from predecessors in the opposite party, will struggle to find loyal servants within the bowels of the federal government. But no administration has politicized the bureaucracy and the intelligence community the way Obama did, and the government has never been so corrupted as it is now. The political assassination of Mike Flynn proves that, and Flynn will certainly not be the last. This administration is in a death struggle with the deep state, and only one will survive.

Bravo to Ambassador Haley, for Blocking UN Ploy on ‘Palestine’

February 12, 2017

Bravo to Ambassador Haley, for Blocking UN Ploy on ‘Palestine’, PJ Media,  Claudia Rosett, February 11, 2017

(Please see also, US blocks former Palestinian prime minister from senior UN role in Libya ‘out of support for Israel’.  Thought experiment: what would the reactions, noted in the article linked in the preceding sentence, have been if a “right-wing” former Israeli cabinet minister had been named to the post?– DM)

nikkiUnited Nations, New York, USA, 27 January, 2017 – Nikki R. Haley, new United States Permanent Representative to the UN Presents Credentials to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres today at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. (Photo by Luiz Rampelotto/EuropaNewswire) (Sipa via AP Images)

Haley’s statement is important not only for its broad message — that President Trump’s administration will steer by his pledges of support to Israel — but also for calling out Guterres on his not-so-subtle attempt to abet the UN’s long push to confer by increments on the Palestinian Authority a legitimacy it has not earned.

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On Thursday United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent the Security Council a letter nominating as the new head of the UN’s mission to Libya a former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Salam Fayyad —  who was described in the letter as “Salam Fayyad (Palestine).”

America’s new ambassador, Nikki Haley, said no. Having thus blocked Fayyad’s appointment, Haley then put out a statement explaining why:

For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel. The United States does not currently recognize a Palestinian state or support the signal this appointment would send within the United Nations, however, we encourage the two sides to come together directly on a solution. Going forward the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.

Haley’s statement is important not only for its broad message — that President Trump’s administration will steer by his pledges of support to Israel — but also for calling out Guterres on his not-so-subtle attempt to abet the UN’s long push to confer by increments on the Palestinian Authority a legitimacy it has not earned.

The UN spokesman’s office responded by Haley’s objection by sending out a statement that:

The proposal for Salam Fayyad to serve as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Libya was solely based on Mr. Fayyad’s recognized personal qualities and his competence for that position.

United Nations staff serve strictly in their personal capacity. They do not represent any government or country.

This UN claim is disingenuous in the extreme, as the UN spokesman’s office itself then underscored, in the rest of the same statement quoted just above, by saying:

The Secretary-General reiterates his pledge to recruit qualified individuals, respecting regional diversity, and notes that, among others no Israeli and no Palestinian have served in a post of high responsibility at the United Nations. This is a situation that the Secretary-General feels should be corrected, always based on personal merit and competencies of potential candidates for specific posts.

In other words, Secretary-General Guterres, while disavowing any interest in the origins or potential loyalties of any candidate for a UN post, is simultaneously claiming a special interest in appointing — specifically — Israelis and Palestinians. And — lo and behold — Guterres just happens to have kicked off this erstwhile neutral campaign by nominating to a high-level post not an Israeli, but a Palestinian.

On a related note, to which Haley and her colleagues in the Trump administration might want to pay serious attention, there’s some news broken by Inner-City Press and further reported by veteran UN reporter Benny Avni, writing in the New York Sun (sources that often provide a lot more insight into the UN than you’re likely to find in, say, the New York Times; with further disclosure that the New York Sun has published many of my own articles on the UN). According to both Inner-City Press and the Sun, it appears that an influential voice behind Guterres’s nomination of Fayyad was that of the UN’s undersecretary general for political affairs, Jeffrey Feltman.

Feltman is an American, a former U.S. diplomat, who was appointed to his UN post in mid-2012, during President Obama’s first term in office. The UN fiction, as in the case of Fayyad’s nomination, is that such appointments have nothing to do with where a person comes from. That’s malarkey. Behind the scenes, a U.S. administration has plenty of say in such appointments.

In Feltman’s case, the longer he remains at the UN, the more opportunity he will have to try to inveigle more ground for Obama’s pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel policies, while undermining Trump’s agenda for decent treatment of Israel. According to Inner-City Press, Feltman has plenty of incentive to stay on at the UN “until July 4 so that his UN pension vests.” I have no direct confirmation of this situation, and Inner-City attributes its information to unnamed sources. But at the very least, Haley and her team should be in a position to find out what’s going on with Feltman’s continued presence as the UN’s senior official for political affairs, and do something about it. The UN’s chronic efforts to undermine Israel and confer undeserved legitimacy on the Palestinians are quite bad enough, without being driven by qualifying dates for UN pension packages.

For the U.S. to pressure the UN to replace Feltman immediately would be an excellent move. If Guterres — with his paradoxical prerequisites for UN staff —  still wants to place not only Palestinians but Israelis in high-level UN posts, surely to replace Feltman he could find an Israeli nominee who would be entirely acceptable to the U.S., not least on grounds of his or her personal qualities and competence.

BREAKING: Senate confirms Rex Tillerson as secretary of state

February 1, 2017

BREAKING: Senate confirms Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, Washington TimesGuy Taylor, February 1, 2017

secstatetillersonFILE – In this Jan. 11, 2017, file photo, Secretary of State-nominee Rex Tillerson testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. Trump’s nomination of Tillerson for secretary of state is headed toward Senate confirmation after several Democrats crossed party lines . . . .

The Senate voted Wednesday afternoon to confirm Rex Tillerson as the nation’s 69th secretary of state, officially making the former ExxonMobil CEO America’s top diplomat and chief foreign policy advisor to President Trump.

In a 56-43 vote, Republicans picked up three Democratic votes to pierce the minority’s hoped-for united front against Mr. Trump’s unconventional nominee: Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Mark R. Warner of Virginia, all of whom face re-election next year. Democratic-leaning independent Sen. Angus S. King Jr. of Maine also voted to advance Mr. Tillerson’s nomination.

Mr. Tillerson, who had an extended lunch meeting with Mr. Trump Wednesday afternoon, was expected to be sworn in during a private ceremony later in the day. Officials said he is unlikely to appear in person at State Department headquarters in Foggy Bottom before Friday.

Officials said Mr. Tillerson, who had an extended lunch meeting with Mr. Trump Wednesday afternoon, would be sworn in during a private ceremony. He is not expected to appear at State Department headquarters in Foggy Bottom until Thursday or Friday.

Once the swearing in formalities are taken care of, the new secretary of state will be confronted quickly by a slate of delicate issues.

In addition to an already turbulent landscape of foreign policy challenges — from the North Korean nuclear threat to Syria’s civil war, Russian meddling in Ukraine and the international battle against the Islamic State — Mr. Tillerson arrival at Foggy Bottom coincides deep hand-wringing over Mr. Trump’s recent executive order relating to the so-called “extreme vetting” of Muslims trying to enter the U.S.

Recent days brought reports that hundreds of U.S. diplomats and State Department rank and file have signed a scathing dissent memorandum criticizing the order Mr. Trump signed Friday to suspend all refugee access to the U.S. and temporarily halt visas to citizens of seven majority Muslim nations, including Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan.

“We are better than this,” said the memo, which was submitted as a cable into the State Department’s infamous “dissent channel” and leaked to reporters.

The White House response to those who signed the memo has been confrontational, with administration spokesman Sean Spicer asserting Monday that they “should either get with the program or they can go.”

The new secretary of state will face the immediate and delicate task of trying win back their loyalty and restore morale at the department.

Mr. Tillerson was noncommittal on the visa and refugee issue during his nomination hearing last month. While he voiced apprehension toward Mr. Trump’s campaign trail calls for a ban on “all Muslims” entering the U.S., he also said he might be open to the creation of some kind of registry of Muslims living in the country.

During the hearing, Mr. Tillerson also faced scrutiny over close relationships he built with high-level Russian officials as head of ExxonMobil — he was CEO from 2006 through 2016 — and the extent to which those relationships may influence his view of economic sanctions designed to contain Moscow’s meddling in Ukraine.

Mr. Tillerson was generally elusive on sanctions and Russia. He spoke out against the use of economic penalties as a foreign policy tool. But he also condemned suspected interference by Russia in the U.S. presidential election, and said he believed Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula was illegal and worthy of a muscular response from Washington.

Another issue that drew scrutiny during the hearing was Mr. Tillerson view on climate change and the extent to which he hopes to change or renounce the 2015 global Paris Climate Accord that former Secretary of State John F. Kerry fought for in recent years.

Mr. Tillerson said he believes “the risk of climate change does exist” and “the consequences of it could be serious enough that action should be taken.” While he said the “type of action seems to be where the largest areas of debate exist,” he added that it’s “important to recognize the U.S. had done a pretty good job.”

Trump taps net neutrality foe for FCC chairman

January 24, 2017

Trump taps net neutrality foe for FCC chairman, Washington ExaminerGabby Morrongiello, January 23, 2017

Pai has been a steadfast critic of Democrat-led efforts to regulate the internet and is a notable opponent of net neutrality.

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President Trump has made Ajit Pai the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, following Tom Wheeler’s departure last Friday.

Pai had previously served as Republican member of the FCC before he was chosen to lead the agency under the next administration.

“This afternoon, I was informed that [President Trump] designated me the 34th chairman of the FCC. It is a deeply humbling honor,” he tweeted Monday afternoon, adding in a statement that he intends to “bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans.”

Before joining the FCC in 2012, Pai served as associate general counsel of Verizon Communications Inc. and as a staffer in the Senate and Justice Department. He and Trump had met at Trump Tower earlier this month.

Pai has been a steadfast critic of Democrat-led efforts to regulate the internet and is a notable opponent of net neutrality.

Obama Allies Working to Undermine Trump’s National Security Team

January 21, 2017

Obama Allies Working to Undermine Trump’s National Security Team, Washington Free Beacon, , January 21, 2017

CIA Director-designate Rep. Michael Pompeo, R-Kan. is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2017, prior to testifying at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

CIA Director-designate Rep. Michael Pompeo, R-Kan. is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2017, prior to testifying at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. (AP

Democrats loyal to former President Barack Obama are waging a behind-the-scenes effort to undermine President Donald Trump’s national security team by blocking key appointees, according to multiple sources familiar with the outgoing administration’s efforts.

The centerpiece of this obstruction is the recent refusal by Senate Democrats to quickly confirm incoming CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Democratic leaders—including Sens. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), and Patrick Leahy (Vt.)—postponed Pompeo’s confirmation, claiming they need more time to debate the pick, which is widely supported by a majority of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

The decision to stall Pompeo’s vote, a move that will leave the critical post of CIA director vacant as Trump takes office, is part of a wider effort by the outgoing administration and its allies to hamstring Trump on the national security front, according to multiple sources, including those close to the Trump administration.

Gen. Michael Hayden, a former CIA director who served under former Presidents George W. Bush and Obama, told the Washington Free Beacon that he is “puzzled by the objections recently raised” by Senate Democrats.

“It’s hell being the political football,” Hayden said Saturday afternoon, ahead of a visit by both Trump and Pompeo to the CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.

Democrats cited Hayden’s role under Bush and Obama as a precedent for Pompeo’s holdup.

“Just as Director Hayden served as a bridge between the Bush and Obama presidencies eight years ago, Director [John] Brennan could play the same role for the incoming and outgoing administrations, if the President is willing to keep him on,” Matt House, a Schumer spokesman, said in a recent press statement.

Democrats opposing Pompeo have expressed concerns about his desire to combat terrorism by boosting the collection of personal data in the United States. They also have raised concerns about Pompeo’s stance on enhanced interrogation techniques.

Hayden dismissed these concerns, saying Democratic talking points on the matter are unconvincing.

“With regard to interrogations and surveillance, Congressman Pompeo said that he would follow the law. If his intelligence professionals advised him that current law denied him intelligence opportunities that would be otherwise available, he would so advise the Congress so that they could discuss and debate whether changes in the law might be indicated,” Hayden said. “That is the essence of a professional carrying out his duty within the American political context.”

There is nothing abnormal about Pompeo’s desire to potentially strengthen the interrogation techniques available to the U.S. military, Hayden said.

“No one could reasonably argue that the current army field manual exhausts all legally available interrogation techniques,” he explained. “If director Pompeo and his professionals judged that America was measurably less safe because of the current limitations, their duty would be to inform the president and the Congress of that judgment. They of course would live with the decision of their political and policy masters.  What could possibly be controversial about that?”

The campaign to delay Pompeo’s confirmation appears to be just one piece of a larger effort aimed at undermining Trump’s national security team, multiple sources told the Free Beacon.

There is evidence Obama’s outgoing administration took steps to complicate and delay the building of Trump’s new team, according to one veteran foreign policy insider who has been in close contact with Trumps’ national security transition team.

“Something strange is going on,” the source, who is not authorized to speak on the record, said. “The Trump folks keep loading up accounts and looking at specific jobs, and they’re not finding anything like what should be there. It’s like the Obama national security team went out of their way to cripple the transition on the way out.”

A senior congressional aide familiar with the efforts to hold up Pompeo’s confirmation vote told the Free Beacon that Democrats are playing politics with America’s national security.

“This is nothing more than an exercise in partisan showmanship,” the source said. “Senate Democrats know Pompeo is wholly qualified for this job and that he’ll eventually be confirmed.”

“Playing politics with this confirmation only jeopardizes our national security at a time when the United States faces a multitude of security challenges,” added the congressional source, who asked not to be named so he could speak freely. “They should drop this charade and confirm him.”

Senate panel approves Mattis to be next defense secretary

January 18, 2017

Senate panel approves Mattis to be next defense secretary, Washington ExaminerJacqueline Klimas, January 18, 2017

The Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday cleared one of the final hurdles for retired Gen. James Mattis to become defense secretary shortly after President-elect Trump takes office.

The committee voted 26-1 that the full Senate should approve the nomination once it’s received, meaning it will not have to be referred to the committee and can be approved by the full Senate as soon as the next president sends it to Capitol Hill, according to a committee press release.

There is precedent for the committee to act on a prospective nomination from someone who is not yet in office. The committee took a similar action to help speed approval of Donald Rumsfeld to be defense secretary on Jan. 19, 2001, one day before the inauguration of former President George W. Bush.

The committee and full Senate passed the waiver last week that will allow Mattis to serve as defense secretary so soon after leaving the Marine Corps. Current law requires someone to be out of uniform for seven years before serving as defense secretary, but Mattis just left the service in 2013.

“Never Trump” Republicans Whine that Trump may say “Never Them”

January 17, 2017

“Never Trump” Republicans Whine that Trump may say “Never Them”, Power LinePaull Mirengoff, January 16, 2017

David Nakamura of the Washington Post reports:

They are some of the biggest names in the Republican national security firmament, veterans of past GOP administrations who say, if called upon by President-elect Donald Trump, they stand ready to serve their country again.

But their phones aren’t ringing. Their entreaties to Trump Tower in New York have mostly gone unanswered. In Trump world, these establishment all-stars say they are “PNG” — personae non gratae.

Their transgression was signing one or both of two public “Never Trump” letters during the campaign, declaring they would not vote for Trump and calling his candidacy a danger to the nation.

One letter, with 122 names, was published by War on the Rocks, a website devoted to national security commentary, during the primary season in March. The other, with 50 names, including some repeat signatories, was published by the New York Times during the general-election campaign in August.

Now, just days before Trump is sworn in as the nation’s 45th president, the letter signers fear they have been added to another document, this one private — a purported blacklist compiled by Trump’s political advisers.

(Emphasis added)

Am I being too harsh in thinking that the moaning of such “all-stars” is pathetic? If you are on record that Donald Trump’s candidacy is a danger to the nation, how can you expect Trump to offer you a job? Both letters are extraordinarily harsh.

It’s possible that Trump nonetheless might offer a position to a signatory either because Trump is forgiving or because the signatory’s service is badly needed. But to expect him to do so, and to the complain to the Washington Post that he probably won’t, seems presumptuous.

It’s also a bit jarring, at least to me, to learn that folks who viewed Trump as beyond the pale want to work for him right out of the gate. Why not wait for him to show that he’s not a danger to the nation?

Words have meaning. “Never” doesn’t mean “not until he wins.”

I’ll go one step further. Folks who, like me, were not “Never Trumpers” but who harshly criticized candidate Trump shouldn’t feel aggrieved if they don’t get considered for a job in the administration. Words have consequences.

However, Nakamura’s reporting suggests that Team Trump might offer positions to some in this category. Maybe there’s hope for the hard core Never Trumpers down the road.

Nakamura sniffs:

The president-elect has virtually no experience in national security and foreign policy, and his transition team could presumably benefit from the broadest pool of applicants for the influential appointive positions in the State Department, Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security.

The broadest pool would include President Obama’s team. Should Trump consider its members? I don’t think so.

Similarly, I see nothing wrong with excluding from consideration folks who hold Trump and his policy positions in the contempt expressed in the “Never Trump” letters. I doubt that the new president will be unable to find highly qualified people for the jobs in question without dipping into the pool of 150-plus Never Trumpers. Nakamura doesn’t present evidence that he will.

Instead, he continues:

But the purportedly blacklisted figures report to their jobs at Washington law firms and think tanks in a state of indefinite limbo as their colleagues, some working in the same offices, are flirting with potential administration jobs.

Okay. Now I have to call this “pathetic.”

I know a few of the people who signed at least one of the offending letters, and I respect them. In fact, I respected everyone who signed because all of them showed the courage of their conviction.

I assumed that all of them knew there might be consequences and were prepared, and maybe even proud, to accept them. Not all of them, it turns out.

Shows how naive I am.

‘We will not be Trumped’: Sharpton calls for protests against Sessions

January 14, 2017

‘We will not be Trumped’: Sharpton calls for protests against Sessions, Washington ExaminerKyle Feldscher, January 14, 2017

Rev. Al Sharpton called for an occupation of senators’ offices to call on them to block Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Session from becoming President-elect Trump’s attorney general, chanting “We will not be Trumped.”

Sharpton, speaking at a march in Washington organized by his National Action Network, called on his supporters to take action to stymie Trump’s agenda.

“We’ve come not to appeal to Donald trump, because he’s made it clear what his policies are and what his nominations are,” he said. “We come to say to the Democrats in the Senate and in the House, and to the moderate Republicans, to get some backbone and get some guts.”

“We didn’t send you down here to be weak-kneed and to get in the room and try and make friends. We sent you down here to stand up.”

Sharpton issued a warning to Republicans who he believes have targeted African American voting rights in recent years, telling them that an election defeat in 2016 was not tantamount to overturning the progress the civil rights movement made.

He recalled the warning Coretta Scott King, wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sent about Sessions’ nomination to the federal bench in the 1980s, which he lost due to past accusations of racism. Sharpton said it’s time to honor Coretta Scott King by fighting hard against Sessions.

“We owe it to her to have a roll call on those that would put him in the Justice Department,” Sharpton said.

“We want the world to see if you sell us out, we’re going to let everybody know who you are.”

He added that the passion he saw from the crowd, gathered on a rainy Saturday morning in Washington, showed there was plenty of fight in his supporters.

“We are not here because we didn’t have something else to do. We are here because we fought hard to make sure this administration had our pride and we are not going away now,” he said. “Criminal justice and police reform must go forward.”

Democrats hunker down for ‘permanent opposition’ to Donald Trump presidency

January 13, 2017

Democrats hunker down for ‘permanent opposition’ to Donald Trump presidency, Washington TimesValerie Richardson, January 12, 2017

kkkdemoProtesters dressed as Ku Klux Klan members disrupt the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing for Attorney General-designate Sen. Jeff Sessions on Tuesday. (Associated Press)

For those stunned to see Tuesday’s Senate confirmation hearing disrupted by shouts, changs and protesters dressed as Ku Klux Klan members: Get used to it.

President-elect Donald Trump won’t take office for another week, but Democrats and left-wing groups have already laid the groundwork for a relentless four-year assault on his presidency, vowing to disrupt and discredit his administration long before he signs his first bill.

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have a name for it: the permanent opposition.

“You’re going to have a permanent opposition, sort of a combination of the news media and the Elizabeth Warren hard left, and they’re going to attack every single day and they’re going to find something to attack all the time,” Mr. Gingrich said on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

“And Trump’s got to get used to the idea. ‘That’s OK, that’s just noise,’” Mr. Gingrich said.

Nobody expects the losing party to celebrate after a presidential race, but political analysts say the postelection frenzy of fundraising, war rooms, protests and social media hysteria represents an alarming departure from the traditional stoic acceptance of years past.

“This is dramatically different from what we’ve seen,” said conservative author David Horowitz, chronicler of left-wing movements and author of the 2012 book “The New Leviathan: How the Left-Wing Money Machine Shapes American Politics.”

“A democracy only works if the factions, the divisions are done peacefully and resolved peacefully, and compromises are made,” Mr. Horowitz said. “There’s a honeymoon after the election in which the losing party defends the legitimacy of the election result. That’s why we’ve had peace since the Civil War in this country.”

Democrats have countered that Mr. Trump’s campaign statements in favor of policies such as repealing Obamacare and building a wall to stop illegal immigration from Mexico have forced them to mobilize before the Jan. 20 inauguration.

“While we don’t yet know the harmful proposals the next administration will put forward, thanks to Donald Trump’s campaign, Cabinet appointments and Twitter feed, we do have an idea of what we will be dealing with, and we must be prepared,” said California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

The Democrat-controlled California Legislature took the unprecedented step last week of hiring former U.S. Attorney Eric H. Holder Jr. to fight Mr. Trump, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called his state a refuge for minorities who feel they are under attack by the still-hypothetical Trump administration.

Democrats say Republicans didn’t make it easy for President Obama, who had barely got comfortable in the White House before the tea party announced its arrival with a march on Washington in September 2009.

On the other hand, conservatives never tried to upend the 2008 Electoral College result by urging electors to defect, or called for his impeachment before he took office, or organized dozens of demonstrations to coincide with his inauguration.

All of that and more have followed Mr. Trump since his Nov. 8 election victory against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“You don’t criticize it in advance of it happening,” Mr. Horowitz said. “I’m amused at all these attacks on Trump as an authoritarian. Well, an authoritarian is a form of ruler. He hasn’t ruled anything.”

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton have stayed largely above the fray in public, encouraging the electorate to give Mr. Trump a chance, but their top supporters are moving in another direction entirely.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund, backed by the Democracy Alliance, a millionaire and billionaire’s club of top Democratic donors, launched on Dec. 15 its Resist campaign, vowing to marshal its resources behind an effort to “push back rapidly and forcefully against the excesses of the Trump administration.”

“We will organize in our communities and congressional offices. We will march in the streets and apply pressure through social media,” says the Resist post. “And we will forge ahead. We will stand up for progressive values and lay the groundwork for a progressive resurgence in the years to come.”

The center isn’t exactly a fringe group. It was founded by John Podesta, who ran Mrs. Clinton’s campaign and served as a White House adviser to Mr. Obama.

For Democrats, the strategy clearly has benefits. In addition to juicing fundraising, vowing to fight Mr. Trump has helped unify supporters and patch up fractures that emerged during the primary campaign between Mrs. Clinton and Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont.

On the other hand, promoting a state of never-ending political battle may come back to haunt the party. Swing voters may grow weary and ultimately tune out the constant anti-Trump outcry, as many of them did during the election.

Liberal comedian Bill Maher said Democrats cried wolf so many times in past presidential races that nobody believed their warnings about Mr. Trump.

Democrats also risk being associated with some of the more extreme elements taking part in the massive resistance to Mr. Trump. One example is RefuseFascism.org, whose organizers include Weather Underground bomber Bill Ayers and Carl Dix, a founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

The group clearly has connections: It ran a full-page ad Wednesday in The Washington Post, signed by liberal celebrities such as Ed Asner, Debra Messing and Rosie O’Donnell, that urged millions to join a “month of resistance” with “protests that don’t stop” in which “people refuse to leave, occupying public space.”

On her personal Twitter feed, Miss O’Donnell told her 900,000 followers about her idea for resisting Mr. Trump — martial law. “I fully support imposing martial law — delaying the inauguration — until Trump is ‘cleared’ of all charges,” Miss O’Donnell tweeted.

Although the comedian failed to specify what official charges should prevent Mr. Trump from taking office, she did link to an image describing environments where military control of the civilian population “might be best.”

Dozens of groups are urging thousands to protest the Jan. 20 inaugural in Washington, leading to concerns about violence and vandalism that could deliver a public relations hit to anti-Trump groups such as Occupy Inauguration.

Republican strategist Mike McKenna called the uproar “sad and pathological.” “Politically, it is really a mistake,” he said.

“The longer they go without coming to grips about what has happened over the last eight years with respect to the dissolution of the Democrat Party as a national party,” Mr. McKenna said, “that’s not good for anyone.”

Fixating on Mr. Trump also prevents Democrats from promoting a positive message for voters, especially if he winds up scoring policy victories early on in his administration.

“His job is to produce for the American people,” Mr. Gingrich said, “and frankly, to the degree that the Democrats decay into just being the anti-Trump party, they will keep themselves in the minority a long time.”