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Trump Transition: Potential Deputy Secretary of State’s Mustache Makes News

Posted: 1:40 am ET

 

On December 6, Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert blogged that the most important job opening that Trump has to fill – at least from a “brand” perspective – is Secretary of State. Here’s what he wrote about John Bolton:

Bolton would be the biggest brand mistake for Trump. Bolton is highly capable, but he gives off a scary vibe, and that is the worst branding mistake Trump could make. Half of the United States is already living under an illusion that Hitler just got elected President of the United States. If you add a war-loving white guy with a strange mustache to the illusion, you’re just making things worse. Trump’s biggest problem, brand-wise, is that so many people think he’s a crazy dictator who can’t be trusted with the nuclear codes. Bolton is the only candidate who makes that illusion worse. I don’t see Master Persuader Trump making a mistake of that size.

Read more here:

On December 21, WaPo reports that Donald Trump is holding a government “casting call” and how the President-elect is seeking “the look”:

And less than 24 hours later, John Bolton’s mustache got its own Twitter account. No, it got two competing Twitter accounts. The question now is who’s going to get verified by Twitter first.

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Is the Tillerson/Bolton Combo For Foggy Bottom Really Happening?

Posted: 3:43 am ET

 

Greg Thielmann, a 25-year veteran of the Foreign Service who served two tours in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, worked as a senior staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee and a senior fellow of the Arms Control Association writes about the potential appointment of John Bolton as Deputy Secretary of State:

I was a firsthand witness to the negative consequences of Bolton’s style and substantive approach while serving as director of the office in the State Department’s intelligence bureau (INR/SPM) responsible for monitoring Iraqi WMD issues. As my office delivered to him the heavy volume of sensitive information provided by the intelligence community, he demonstrated a penchant for quickly dismissing inconvenient facts and rejecting any analysis that did not serve his policy preferences.[…]As undersecretary in Colin Powell’s State Department, Bolton ran into a stone wall in trying to intimidate INR and squelch its independence. But if Trump succeeds in promoting Bolton to deputy secretary under a chain of command totally lacking in government experience, a purge of career professionals in the secondary and tertiary levels of the department seems likely.

Read Thielman’s Bolton: A Prime Mover of the Iraq WMD Fiasco via lobelog.

We are sure that Mr. Thielman and Senator Paul are not the only ones having strong feelings about this potential appointment. A couple of thoughts: 1) The Bolton appointment has yet to be formally announced. Is Bolton, Trump’s Plan B if the Senate rejects the Tillerson nomination?  This is an uncommon season, so stuff can happen, but we remain convinced that the Senate will not reject two nominations in a row for the same cabinet post. If the Senate rejects the Tillerson nomination, the alternate nominee will conceivably sail through a quicker confirmation process. That nominee could be Bolton. 2) We don’t know how much Trump wanted Tillerson for this job, and if Tillerson wanted this job as much as the other rumored nominees.  This is important because it could indicate how much leeway Tillerson will have in putting together his potential team in Foggy Bottom. Would he have a say on who will be his deputies? Would he pick Bolton?  Or would T-Rex cast a wider net?

More John Bolton clips:

Below is a clip with President-elect Trump and John Bolton talking about the United Nations.

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Trump Makes It Official — ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to the State Department, What’s Next?

Posted: 11:02 am PT

 

On December 13, President-elect Trump announced his intent to nominate Rex Tillerson, the Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, to serve as Secretary of State. Below is the Trump Transition statement:

Among the most accomplished business leaders and international dealmakers in the world, Mr. Tillerson has spent his career protecting the jobs of his employees, who number more than 70,000. Guiding operations around the world that include more than 200 offices, Mr. Tillerson knows how to manage a global organization and successfully navigate the complex architecture of world affairs and diverse foreign leaders. As Secretary of State, he will be a forceful and clear-eyed advocate for America’s vital national interests, and help reverse years of misguided foreign policies and actions that have weakened America’s security and standing in the world. The American people will once again have a world-class leader working on their behalf, enhancing the prospects for peace and prosperity among nations.

“Rex Tillerson’s career is the embodiment of the American dream. Through hard work, dedication and smart deal making, Rex rose through the ranks to become CEO of ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest and most respected companies,” said President-elect Donald J. Trump. “His tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice for Secretary of State. He will promote regional stability and focus on the core national security interests of the United States. Rex knows how to manage a global enterprise, which is crucial to running a successful State Department, and his relationships with leaders all over the world are second to none. I can think of no one more prepared, and no one more dedicated, to serve as Secretary of State at this critical time in our history.”

“I am honored by President-elect Trump’s nomination and share his vision for restoring the credibility of the United States’ foreign relations and advancing our country’s national security,” said Mr. Tillerson. “We must focus on strengthening our alliances, pursuing shared national interests and enhancing the strength, security and sovereignty of the United States.”

Rex Tillerson is a native Texan who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He began his career at Exxon Company, U.S.A. in 1975 as a production engineer.

After years of hard work and dedication to his company, Rex then became general manager of Exxon Company, U.S.A.’s central production division, responsible for oil and gas production operations throughout a large portion of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas.

In 1992, Mr. Tillerson was named production advisor to Exxon Corporation. Three years later he was named president of Exxon Yemen Inc. and Esso Exploration and Production Khorat Inc., and in January 1998, he was promoted to vice president of Exxon Ventures (CIS) Inc. and president of Exxon Neftegas Limited. In those roles, he was responsible for Exxon’s holdings in Russia and the Caspian Sea as well as the Sakhalin I consortium operations offshore Sakhalin Island, Russia.

In December 1999, he became executive vice president of Exxon Mobil Development Company. Mr. Tillerson was then named senior vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation in August 2001, and was elected president of the corporation and member of the board of directors on March 1, 2004. Nearly two years after he was elected, Mr. Tillerson was named as chairman and CEO of the board on January 1, 2006.

Mr. Tillerson is not only a stalwart in his professional life, but also in the community. He is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and a trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is the vice chairman of the Ford’s Theatre Society and a recipient of the Lincoln Medal; immediate past national president of the Boy Scouts of America, a Distinguished Eagle Scout, and a former director of the United Negro College Fund. He was recognized as a distinguished alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin in 2006, and in 2013, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

The Senate Foreign Relation Committee is a GOP 10/Dem 9 split, the full Senate is a 52 GOP/48 Dem split. A senator can put a hold on a nomination.  If two GOP Senators flip, VP Pence can cast the deciding vote and still confirm the nominee.  Since a simple majority is all that’s needed, three GOP Senators could also flip and sink this nomination. A nomination can also be killed in committee, but that does not look likely here. The SFRC Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN)who was on Trump’s short-list for Secretary of State has said that Tillerson is “a very impressive individual.” After the selection was announced, Senator Corker tweeted, “I congratulate Mr. Tillerson on his nomination and look forward to meeting with him and chairing his confirmation hearing.”  We suspect that the confirmation hearing would occur the day after the Trump inauguration.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who sits in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and who says “I am a no on John Bolton…” reportedly told a radio show that he is “reserving judgment” on the Tillerson nomination. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) who also sits in the SFRC tweeted “The fact that Condi Rice, James Baker and Bob Gates are recommending Tillerson carries considerable weight. I look forward to the hearings.” Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), also an SFRC member said, “While Rex Tillerson is a respected businessman, I have serious concerns about his nomination.”  He released a statement here: .

There are “concerns” but no hard “no” at this time. It doesn’t hurt that former Secretary of State Condi Rice, and former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates of RiceHadleyGates have great things to say about the nominee.

According to the Constitution Center, there were five presidential cabinet nominations that were rejected by the Senate. The last two occurred within the last sixty years — one in 1959 for the commerce secretary nomination and the second one in 1989 for the defense secretary nomination:

In 1959, President Dwight Eisenhower nominated Admiral Lewis Strauss as commerce secretary. The Democrats controlled more than 60 Senate seats and Strauss lost in a contentious nomination process by just four votes.

The fight between the Senate and its former member, John Tower, in 1989 was historic in many ways. Tower had headed the Senate Armed Services Committee until he retired in 1985. President Bush had nominated Tower as defense secretary.

The public debate over Tower’s nomination included a lot of mudslinging, and Tower lost the vote along party lines in the Democrat-controlled Senate. He was the only former Senate member rejected for a cabinet position by the Senate in its history. Dick Cheney was later approved in Tower’s place.

For Senators contemplating sinking the Tillerson nomination, the next question to ask might be, “then what?” Could Trump’s next move after a Tillerson rejection be the nomination of John Bolton as Secretary of State? That is totally possible. And after sinking one cabinet nomination, it is conceivable that a GOP Senate would not want another contentious confirmation. Rejecting the Tillerson nomination would almost assure the confirmation of John Bolton or whoever Trump puts forward in response.

The Financial Times’ Ed Crooks said that conventional wisdom has tagged Rex as “pro-Russia” but that it is probably more accurate to say he’s been pro-Exxon.  Well, his responsibilities were to the Exxon shareholders. Tillerson was once asked by Charlie Rose“… whether it’s Alaska or offshore or wherever it might be, is your philosophy “drill, baby, drill”? Here is Tillerson’s response talking about opportunities and risks:

No, my philosophy is to make money. And so if I can drill, and make money, then that’s what I want to do. But it really is for us it’s about making quality investments for our shareholders. And it’s not a quality investment if you cannot manage the risk around it. And so part of that decision to undertake whether it’s a drilling program or an investment program in some other country, we have to have a very good understanding of what risk are we dealing with, how are we going to manage those. Because you may have a fabulous opportunity but if you manage the risk poorly, you’ve cost yourself not only that opportunity but you’ve probably cost yourself a lot of others.

The bigger question probably is what happens to Tillerson’s huge financial interest in Exxon if he gets confirmed as Secretary of State. This is  something the Senators should be interested in. Of course, they were also interested with conflict of interest or the appearance of it related to the Clinton Foundation leading to then Senator Clinton’s confirmation in 2009 and they voted 94-2.

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Potential “D” Bolton, John Bolton Talks Russian Hacks, False Flag and Obama Admin #dazzleandwow

Posted: 3:20 am ET

 

John Bolton is reportedly the front-runner to be deputy secretary of state if Rex Tillerman is selected as secretary of state. According to Brian Urquhart’s 2008 piece, One Angry Man, this is not the first time that Bolton has aspired to be deputy secretary of state.

“At the outset of the second Bush term, the new secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, asked Bolton what job might interest him in the new term. Bolton’s mention of his interest in being deputy secretary of state was received with no enthusiasm, and two months later, in March 2005, Rice announced his nomination as ambassador to the UN, thus appointing to this unique post the US official most publicly contemptuous of the world organization. Bolton’s long and abrasive confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were, in his own words, not so much about the UN or his opinions, but about “whether I was a nice person, thereby inviting every person in government whom I had ever defeated in a policy battle, of whom there were many, to turn the issue into one of personal disparagement….” Even though Republicans held a majority at the time, his confirmation failed by four votes in the Senate. The President finally announced his recess appointment on August 1, 2005.”

 

Prior to his assignment in the UN, Bolton was Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security from May 2001 to May 2005. So with the exception of the top position, there are only two other jobs that he could potentially be interested in — the Deputy Secretary (D) position, or the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources (DMR).

On Saturday, Rex Tillerson made news when NBC News reported that Trump was expected to name the Exxon CEO as secretary of state (see Trump Expected to Name Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State; ‘Stop Rex’ Petition Already Up).  During a Sunday morning show, Reince Priebus did say that the secretary of state pick was not a “done deal.”

In an interview with Fox News’ Eric Shawn on Sunday, John Bolton also made news when he talked about the Russian hack, false flag, and the Obama administration. Text below via TPM:

BOLTON: It’s not at all clear to me just viewing this from the outside that this hacking into the DNC and the RNC computers was not a false flag operation. Let’s remember what FBI director James Comey said dealing with Hillary’s home brew server. He said we found no direct evidence of foreign intelligence service penetration, but given the nature of this, we didn’t expect to. Meaning, a really sophisticated foreign intelligence service would not leave any cyber fingerprints. And yet people say they did leave cyber fingerprints in the hacks regarding our election. So the question that has to be asked is why did the Russians run their smart intelligence service against Hillary’s server but their dumb intelligence services against the election —

SHAWN: When you say false flag, that’s a very serious charge. False flag by whom? Here is “The Washington post.” The Post reported the CIA has concluded individuals with close ties to the Russian government hacked the e-mails. Intelligence officials have determined that Russia’s goal was to help trump win rather than simply undermine confidence in the election. Are you actually accusing someone here in this administration of trying — in the intelligence community of trying to throw something?

BOLTON: We just don’t know, but I believe that intelligence has been politicized in the Obama administration to a very significant degree.

Here’s a clip:

A couple of old clips down the John Bolton memory lane:

One writer called “his obsession with the United Nations is as serious as Ted Haggard’s with sin.” After he announced his resignation as U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in December 2006, the Heritage Foundation released In Their Own Words: Ambassador Bolton’s Record of Effectiveness at the U.N., a collection of quotes from media clips, senators, foreign officials and a few fans. Here he is with one of his greatest hits talking about the United Nations.

And then here’s Senator Rand Paul who sits in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and says John Bolton “should get nowhere close” to the State Department.

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Trump Expected to Name Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State; ‘Stop Rex’ Petition Already Up

Posted: 12:08 pm PT
Updated: 1:15 pm PT

 

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports that Donald Trump is expected to nominate Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, citing two sources close to the transition process. The announcement is likely to happen next week, but the sources cautioned that nothing is final until the president-elect officially announces the pick.  As secretary of state, Tillerson would be fourth in line to the presidency. The report also says that Tillerson will be paired with former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as his deputy secretary of state for day-to-day management of the department, one source added.

350.org, a movement focusing on the challenge of the climate crisis  called  Trump’s nominee Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection, a “Puppet of the fossil fuel industry.”  And it already has a petition online opposing the potential appointment of Rex Tillerson to the State Department: “This Cabinet pick might be one of the worst yet (and that’s saying something). Exxon is the largest oil company in the world. It has funded climate misinformation for decades and violated human rights across the planet. … If Exxon takes control of the State Department, they can undo all the climate progress we’ve made at the international level. They’ll be able to wield the Department as an arm of the fossil fuel industry, opening up new oil and gas development around the world and crushing dissent.”

After news broke that Tillerson is Trump’s pick, 350.org released a new “Stop Rex” campaign banner and a statement saying “Tillerson may be a friend of Putin’s, but he’s no friend of the planet” and promised to pressure “Senators to turn the confirmation process into a hearing on ExxonMobil’s history of climate deception.”

Here is a sobering read related to ExxonMobil, Tillerson and the Rockefeller Family Fund’s divestment from fossil fuels:

“[O]ur organization, the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF), announced that it would divest its holdings in fossil fuel companies. We mean to do this gradually, but in a public statement we singled out ExxonMobil for immediate divestment because of its “morally reprehensible conduct.”1 For over a quarter-century the company tried to deceive policymakers and the public about the realities of climate change, protecting its profits at the cost of immense damage to life on this planet. Our criticism carries a certain historical irony. John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil, and ExxonMobil is Standard Oil’s largest direct descendant. In a sense we were turning against the company where most of the Rockefeller family’s wealth was created.”

Read more below. Click here for RFF’s divestment statement.

More clips to read:

Here are a couple of speeches Tillerson did at The Economic Club and CFR and a sit down with Charlie Rose:

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The Case For [INSERT NAME] as the Next Secretary of State #helpwithdazzleandwow

Posted: 1:38  pm ET

 

Alright, alright, alright. Here is a bonus clip of Mr. Rohrabacher who potentially could end up in Foggy Bottom in one shape or form, calling human rights abuses in Russia “baloney” and “absolutely” comparing Gorbachev to Putin. Vlad is smiling, you guys.

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More on Trump’s Taiwan Call Plus Video Clips From Secretary of State Candidates #suspense

Posted: 2:07 am ET

 

A view from Taiwan, a Trump-Tsai Ing-wen tag team, watch:

Now for the auditions, with some exciting clips below:

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69th Secretary of State Race: New Names Include Stavridis, Huntsman, Tillerson, Manchin #dazzle&wow

Posted: 12:58 ET

 

In addition to the new names floated today, Politico is reporting that “whoever ultimately gets the top job at the State Department, multiple Trump transition sources said former United Nations ambassador John Bolton is widely expected to be offered a chance to be slotted in as one of the secretary’s top deputies, if not as the No. 2.”  Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., is reportedly also likely to be offered a lower post in the State Department, according to unnamed Politico sources.  Also as has been reported previously, Giuliani has told the Trump team directly that he isn’t interested in any other job than secretary of state.  As of this writing, Predictit still has Romney leading the pack, followed by Huntsman, Giuliani, Corker, Bolton, Petraeus, Rohrabacher, Tillerson and Manchin.

Howaboutthisguy? He razzle dazzle, hey? This is pretty doable for the 8th Floor, right?

The Funnies, not funnies over on Twitter:

69th Secretary of State Watch: Giuliani Gets Dinged, Bolton Writes an OpEd, Paul Spikes Transition Ball

Posted: 2:47 am ET

 

The other most mentioned name, John Bolton now calls for major NATO and UN reforms, and took to the pages of the NYPost to prescribe what Trump needs to do with Iran.

Meanwhile, Senator Rand Paul who sits in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) came out early and quickly to register disapproval over the potential nomination of John Bolton or Rudy Giuliani.

The Senate can approve or reject a nomination. A majority of Senators present and voting, a quorum being present, is required to approve a nomination. Read more here (PDF).

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Who Will be Secretary of State in January 2017? Giuliani and Bolton Reported as Front Runners

Posted: 3:31 am ET
Updated: 12:13 pm PT
Updated: 2:57 pm PT

 

Updated: 2:57 pm | Media reports now say that the front-runners for the SecState job are former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former UN Ambassador John Bolton. Also included in the rumor mill is Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations who served under the Bush Administration. Given that Giuliani was one of the president-elect’s most aggressive surrogate during the campaign, it is conceivable that he will get this job if he wants it. But since no announcement has been made yet … we’ll continue hearing updates on who is  favored, or “being vetted” or who is “close” to being named 69th Secretary of State.

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We previously blogged about the names floated around as the next Secretary of State. In October, career diplomat Bill Burns was the prediction market’s favorite (see Who will be Secretary of State on Jan. 31, 2017?).  As of this writing, the former UN Ambassador John Bolton is running at $0.53 cents in the prediction market, way ahead of SFRC’s Senator Bob Corker and former House Speaker New Gingrich.

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There may be a good reason for it.  It looks like Newt Gingrich has taken himself out of the running:

The New York Times has a short-list of  other possibles including Zalmay Khalilzad, a former ambassador to Afghanistan,  and retired General Stanley McChrystal.

We don’t know who will eventually end up in Foggy Bottom, but here is former Ambassador John Bolton in an interview with Hugh Hewitt back in August 2016, who endorsed the former for the cabinet position with then candidate Trump.

On November 12, the National Review writes that “none is better suited to the job than former U.N. ambassador John Bolton.”

Bolton has been around the block—starting his career as a protégé of James A. Baker III—but has never become an establishmentarian or lost his edge. He would understand that he is the president’s emissary to the State Department, not the other way around, and avoid getting captured by Foggy Bottom’s bureaucrats the way, say, a Colin Powell did, or others with less experience likely would.

The National Review editorial went all in and writes that “John Bolton is an ideal pick, and his appointment would be a sign that the Trump administration intends to get off to a strong start.” 

Random person online says,”He will make heads explode!” In Washington DC and Turtle Bay. So apparently, that is a potential attraction at the Internets near you.

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