All eyes have been focused on the Secretary of State job – and Rudy Giuliani is one of the final four.
You have to hand it to the President and Vice-President Elect and their teams – they know ratings.
Not since Barack Obama generously appointed his primary rival Hillary Clinton to the post has “America’s Next Top Diplomat” received such public interest.
Mr. Trump is focusing on the people’s business, but he hasn’t forgotten his role as America’s premier showman, either.
The MSM may sneer, but Trump has a whole generation interested in politics. Barack Obama received the warmest reviews of his Presidency when he appointed Clinton after a bitter primary battle – a fact not lost on Trump as he wines and dines Mitt Romney.
Romney is described by Steve Bannon’s Breitbart as a ‘traitor’ and a ‘snake’ but it is clear that Trump and Pence do not think so. Firstly, they are focused on bringing the Republican movement together, and, secondly, it is not probable that they would consider open opposition to be “disloyal”. Disloyalty is when a previous supporter turns against you – for example, Newt Gingrich who variously supported Trump and stabbed him in the back at various times during the campaign – and even during the transition.
Newt Gingrich: Trump "made a really stupid mistake" with judge attacks https://t.co/HyygLNTrBO So Trump criticism not new – a tactic
— tlc (@Lapps100) November 29, 2016
— AngryEx-Bernie4Trump (@FeelBern2016) October 13, 2016
That is why the Newt Gingrich-Steve Bannon faction-led attacks on both Mitt Romney and General Petraeus are unlikely to succeed.
Petraeus, championed by key transition player Anthony Scaramucci, is another very strong, national-security focused choice for Secretary of State. Democrats screaming about Petraeus leaking state secrets to his mistress are unlikely to bother the President-Elect’s team. The comparison with Hillary Clinton is inapt. Secretary Clinton has faced no sanctions for her email server, whereas Petraeus openly admitted his actions and pled guilty to a misdemeanor. Petraeus was an incredibly effective head of the CIA, is detested by Putin’s operatives and has an heroic military background. His rehabilitation by President-Elect Trump would add to his already loyal reputation, and he would be in a position to look at the Secretary of State’s global role from an “America First” national security background. Another strong argument for Petraeus is that he, as a former CIA director, would be able to prevent General Flynn from bringing the post of NSA into any further disrepute. Flynn, according to sources a Bannon protege, has already embarrassed the transition with plenty of negative headlines – a distraction Trump and Pence don’t want any more of.
Bob Corker is a dark horse, but has experience in Washington and would get this done, without the advantages of Romney and Petraeus.
But Rudy Giuliani, pushed by Kellyanne Conway went she went ‘rogue’, could really put the brakes on Trump’s agenda. Many mainstream papers, including the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, along with news outlets such as CNN, have suggested Rudy might not be confirmed at all. These are not headlines the transition should need to worry about.
So what are the reasons for not choosing Giuliani?
- He’s a loose cannon – especially on the FBI and Clinton
Giuliani monumentally shot his mouth off on television on November 4th, when he suggested that the Trump campaign had FBI informants that were feeding it information about ongoing criminal investigations into the Clinton Foundation.
That would not have been legal. Giuliani would face extensive questions about this matter at confirmation hearings, embarrassing both President Trump and Vice-President Pence. It’s important to note that if Giuliani was illegally speaking to FBI agents who were assisting him politically, there is no suggestion that the nominees Trump and Pence, busy on the campaign trail, had any knowledge of Giuliani’s activities.
- He’s got massive financial problems
Giuliani would be “Crooked Rudy” by the time America had finished with the confirmation hearings – destroying Trump’s well-deserved reputation for swamp-draining. Giuliani earned $16m last year from speeches to foreign governments and bodies – exactly what Trump slammed Clinton for. Trump punished Clinton for her donations from Qatar, but Rudy Giuliani has done exactly the same thing, with extensive Qatar payments.
It would make President Trump look ultra-hypocritical on prime-time TV if he gave the job to the one guy who has done all Clinton has done on speeches and donations from sexist, anti-gay Arab governments. Does Trump need that distraction?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 24, 2016
— Niccolò Paganini (@Nicco_Paganini) November 17, 2016
- He’s tried to box Trump in and force him to give him the job
This tactic doesn’t work on Trump’s top-rated TV shows, but will it work in real life? As Joe Scarborough noted
I don’t care if my mother wanted to be secretary of state and I could appoint her secretary of state, if she went out and tried to box me in, I’d say ‘Mom, I love you. See you at Thanksgiving’
Scarborough also called Giuliani’s public, TV-based push for the job ‘classless’, noting that Petraeus and Romney had not done that.
Giuliani has given several interviews commenting about the potential post, which Scarborough called “classless” and a “punk move.”
Show co-host Mika Brzezinsk said that maybe Giuliani’s nickname should be ‘Rudy Out Front,’ as he’s “always out in front embarrassing Mr. Trump, always out in front talking about everything he’s being offered.”
- Giuliani is not Respected Abroad and Wouldn’t Help Trump’s Foreign Agenda
Business Insider and others say that ‘diplomat’ won’t suit a man whose firms have worked with at least two groups that America has designated as terrorists in the past, as well as working as a name partner with a Texas law firm that lobbied for Venezuelan dictator and ultra-socialist Hugo Chavez.
Giuliani also has spoken in support of the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran… The U.S. government considered it a terrorist organization until 2012.
He has ties to Russia’s TriGlobal Strategic Ventures…. the firm’s president, Vitaly Pruss, has “worked closely” with Giuliani Partners…. [they have consulted for] State-owned Transneft, which was among Russian oil companies targeted with sanctions by the USA
Politico further reported that another of Giuliani’s firms took money from Qatar and from a Singaporean organized crime figure involved in gambling. To put a cherry on the cake, this man is considered “close to the North Korean regime”.
The same subsidiary, Giuliani Security & Safety, provided security advice to a Singapore gambling project on behalf of a partnership that included a tycoon close to the North Korean regime who is considered an organized crime figure by the U.S.
None of this, nor Giuliani’s “Lock her up!” chants at rallies about a woman whom he’d like to have as his predecessor, would help Trump abroad. Trump would be sending an emissary to meet with diplomats who probably forged relations with Secretary Clinton he can use to his advantage.
Trump has been gracious and friendly to Clinton since her loss, and appointing Giuliani to her job would poison his admin’s relations with Democrats in Washington and diplomats abroad. Does he need that hassle?
As a dealmaker, Trump will want the right guy for the job – regardless of background. And Vice President Elect Pence, a former Congressman, knows that although Trump-Pence have the dream scenario – full control of the Republican House and Senate – not only will Paul Ryan work better with Petraeus or Romney, but it’s very possible that Democrats may take one of the houses of Congress back during Trump’s term. At that point he will want better relations with Democrats than Mr. “Lock her Up” can offer.
None of that means that Giuliani can’t be offered a post by Trump. But it would be better for the administration if he had a senior advisor role in the White House, where staff positions do not need Senate confirmation. Knowing – as he must do – what damage the hearings for Giuliani would cost the Trump administration, even if he eventually passed, which is by no means certain, wouldn’t it be more seemly for Rudy Giuliani to show his true loyalty to Trump and Pence by offering to step out of consideration for this job, and to find another more suited to his talents as an attack dog and lawyer?