Friday, November 18, 2016

Flynn possibly in as security advisor, Giuliani possibly out as SoS

We’ll start with Flynn. The NY Times reports that Trump Is Said to Offer National Security Post to Michael Flynn, Retired General.

Flynn is a one-horse show. Here is the scariest part of that.

Islamist militancy poses an existential threat on a global scale, and the Muslim faith itself is the source of the problem, he said, describing it as a political ideology, not a religion. He has even at times gone so far as to call it a cancer.

In Mr. Trump, General Flynn found someone who was more than willing to listen. He readily signed on to the campaign, and quickly emerged as the angry voice of the national security establishment, leading chants of “lock her up” against Hillary Clinton at rallies and the Republican convention. And now, after months of the two men talking to each other, it can be hard to tell where Mr. Trump’s views end and General Flynn’s begin.

General Flynn and Mr. Trump also agree that the United States needs to sharply curtail immigration from predominantly Muslim countries, and possibly even force American Muslims to register with the government.

So Flynn is in a position to tell Trump what Trump wants to hear, not what he needs to hear. It gets worse.

… like Mr. Trump, he would enter the White House with significant baggage. The Flynn Intel Group, a consulting firm he founded after he was fired by President Obama as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, has hazy business ties to Middle Eastern countries and has appeared to lobby for the Turkish government. General Flynn also took a paid speaking engagement last year with Russia Today, a television network funded by the Kremlin, and attended the network’s lavish anniversary party in Moscow, where he sat at Mr. Putin’s elbow.

That would seem to disqualify Flynn straight away. But such conflicts, as we now know from the top guy himself, do not rattle the Republican rank and file and the Republican leaders lost their moral compass long ago.

If you want to know where this style of management leads, watch what happens in the matter of Trump’s relatives, like Jared Kushner, seeking appointments and security clearances. Here’s a brief on that, also from the Times: Donald Trump’s Son-in-Law, Jared Kushner, Tests Legal Path to White House Job.

Along the same lines, John Cassidy (New Yorker) reports on how Rudy Giuliani’s “buck-raking” might end his chances in the coming administration. Here’s one example of the enormous conflict of interest and Cassidy’s conclusion.

And then there is Giuliani’s Russian connection. Going back at least to 2004, the Times reported, records show that he has had ties to a New York-based consulting firm called TriGlobal Strategic Ventures, which “has provided image consulting to Russian oligarchs and clients with deep Kremlin ties.” In that year, the Times story went on, TriGlobal “arranged to have Mr. Giuliani come to Moscow to meet with the foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, as well as other prominent Russian politicians and business executives.” Today, the client roster of TriGlobal, which has an office in Moscow, includes Transneft, a state-owned oil-pipeline company that was subjected to Western sanctions after Russia invaded Crimea.

Right now it’s impossible to say that Trump won’t nominate Giuliani to the State Department. The President-elect is said to be considering appointing his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to a senior job in his Administration. If he’s prepared to flout the federal laws against nepotism, he might well be prepared to ignore the fact that Giuliani has taken money from some of the foreign governments, and foreign interests, he would be dealing with as Secretary of State. But there is still the issue of whether Giuliani would make it through the Senate. If the Trump people conclude that it’s a lost cause, Giuliani will have nobody to blame but himself. Like Shakespeare’s engineer, he will have been hoist with his own petard.

Then again this is an administration in which Russian connections seem to be highly valued.

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