Today’s Morning Glory: Trump should issue his list of key appointees soon

The Supreme Court list worked in 2016. A national security list would work now.

Today's Morning Glory: Trump should issue his list of key appointees soon

“We’re not respected anywhere anymore. We’re laughed at. We’ve become a joke as a country.”

Former President Donald Trump’s CPAC speech last week emphasized one central message: respect. This sets the stage for the primary issue of the upcoming campaign.

Former President Donald Trump’s recent CPAC speech highlighted a crucial message: respect. This speech offers a preview of the central theme of the upcoming campaign.

The 2024 election is shaping up to be the “Respect Election,” a term Trump seems to have grasped early on. Voters will face a decision centered on whom they respect more: an ailing Biden or an unpredictable Trump. A significant aspect of this assessment is considering whom other nations respect, fear, or are inclined to follow more.

When comparing President Biden and former President Trump, it’s evident that our enemies harbor more respect and fear towards Trump, while our allies are more inclined to follow him willingly. The stark contrast is apparent: our enemies do not perceive Team Biden with the same level of respect or fear as they did with Trump.

Iran notably challenged Trump’s red lines, and General Soleimani of the Quds Force ultimately faced the consequences. This incident exemplifies how adversaries responded to Trump’s administration compared to Biden’s.

Former President Donald Trump's

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine occurred during both President Obama’s and President Biden’s administrations. However, during Trump’s presidency, Putin did not provoke the same aggression in Ukraine, likely due to Trump’s provision of lethal aid to Ukraine. This indicates a clear preference and respect for Trump as an adversary.

Similarly, China’s communist leadership has publicly criticized Secretary of State Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. While General Secretary Xi Jinping clashed with Trump over policy in private, his subordinates did not treat Trump’s team with contempt. Despite this, many individuals from Trump’s administration faced sanctions from the Chinese communist government after leaving power.

The composition of President Trump’s national security team for key White House and government positions, including State, Defense, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), CIA, FBI, Attorney General, and Treasury Secretary, will play a crucial role in restoring respect abroad and influencing voters’ confidence in Trump’s leadership. Various individuals and groups are compiling lists of potential appointees for a re-elected Trump administration.

It would be an astute political strategy for Candidate Trump to release his list of potential appointees for these critical roles. While respect primarily hinges on the president’s actions and reputation, the gravitas of the entire team also contributes significantly. Consequently, there is a growing effort to compile lists of potential candidates, but ultimately, only Trump’s lists will carry weight.

“The efforts by various non-profit groups are certainly appreciated and can be enormously helpful,” Trump campaign senior advisers Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita said in a statement in November. “However, none of these groups or individuals speak for President Trump or his campaign. We will have an official transition effort to be announced at a later date.”

Today's Morning Glory: Trump should issue his list of key appointees soon

Certainly, I’m not speaking for the campaign or the former president, but if you drew a Venn diagram of (1) those national security professionals whom Trump respects; (2) those whom our nation-state enemies respect and fear; (3) those whom our allies may not like very much but for whom they have respect; and, (4) when necessary, those whom can get confirmed by the Senate (the White House Chief of Staff and National Security Advisor do not require confirmation), the list of names in the center of that Venn diagram is not long:

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, former Acting Director of National Intelligence Rick Grenell, former Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, former Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, and former U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are among the individuals who earned the respect and confidence of the former president. Additionally, Senators Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst, Lindsey Graham, Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Michael Waltz of Florida are also esteemed by the former president.

When it comes to filling the most significant roles in the national security team—such as State, Defense, Attorney General, Director of National Intelligence (DNI), CIA Director, FBI Director, White House Chief of Staff, and National Security Advisor—it is likely that these ten individuals, all highly capable professionals, will be considered.

Additionally, expect to see the return of Trump loyalists and highly competent professionals to other key positions. This includes ambassadors such as David Friedman (Israel), George Glass (Portugal), and Ed McMullen (Switzerland). Other first-term Cabinets and sub-cabinet Trump alumni likely to return include Ben Carson, Alex Gray, Jamison Greer, K.T. McFarland, Stephen Miller, Mary Kissel, Keith Krach, Larry Kudlow, Morgan Ortagus, Julia Nesheiwat, Kimberly Reed, Russ Vought, and Ray Washburne.

Admiral Philip Davidson (USN, Ret.) retired from the Navy in the spring of 2021, but he retains a strong following among Trump administration alumni. Additionally, there are other military personnel included in the lists. It is feasible to sift through these candidates using filters based on factors such as respect from our allies and adversaries, endorsement by the former president, and confirmation by a majority of the Senate for positions requiring confirmation.

Today's Morning Glory: Trump should issue his list of key appointees soon

Some individuals from the international relations and national security sectors of the administration may transition seamlessly to domestic agencies, while others, like Friedman, may seek to reclaim their previous positions. For instance, Glass, known for his Western background, could be a suitable candidate for the top job at the Department of the Interior. Washburne, with a strong business background, might be considered for positions at the Department of the Treasury or Commerce. Ortagus could be a potential fit for roles within the Department of Homeland Security.

The key takeaway is that Trump would be in a much stronger position for a transition after the upcoming November election than in November 2024.

Trump might not be inclined to disclose his specific cabinet choices, but a list akin to the one released for potential Supreme Court nominees in 2016 could significantly impact perceptions of respect.

Ask yourself: would Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin or SecDef Pompeo be more concerning to Xi? Did our adversaries worry more about NSA O’Brien or Sullivan? Grenell could excel as White House Chief of Staff, but if confirmed by the Senate, would Secretary of State Grenell unsettle Tehran more than Secretary Blinken does presently? And what about Morgan Ortagus at DHS instead of the recently impeached Secretary Mayorkas? Would AG Merrick Garland or individuals like Tom Cotton or John Ratcliffe raise more concern among the cartels?

All these hypothetical scenarios have straightforward answers. There’s considerable potential benefit to releasing a list, even if it’s general and not specific to particular positions. I hope the nominee moves in that direction. Until Trump does, anticipate legacy media continuing to publish cheap hit pieces, like Politico’s recent article, where the on-the-record criticisms of Trump predominantly came from individuals unlikely to be invited back for a second Trump term, or from anonymous sources whose credibility remains questionable.

The list of qualified individuals willing to serve in the Trump administration is extensive. Publicly sharing this list would only bring positive outcomes.

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