dwell for a moment on the awfulness of Tillerson.
He came to office with no discernible worldview other than the jaded transactionalism he acquired as ExxonMobil’s C.E.O. He leaves office with no discernible accomplishment except a broken department and a traumatized staff.
Six of the 10 top positions at State are vacant; even now the United States does not have an ambassador to South Korea, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, South Africa or the European Union, among other posts.
.. he did seem to figure out that Vladimir Putin is a bad guy. But that’s progress only because he was previously the Russian despot’s premier apologist.
.. he opposed the president’s two best foreign policy decisions: moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and decertifying the Iran deal.
.. Some secretaries of state — Colin Powell, for instance — alienate their bosses by siding with the bureaucracy. Others, like Henry Kissinger, do the opposite. Tillerson is the rare bird who managed to do both.
.. unlike Tillerson, he will have credibility with foreign governments. Just as importantly, he’s been willing to contradict the president, meaning he’ll be able to act as a check on him, too.
Trump isn’t going to be disciplined by someone whose views are dovish or establishmentarian. But he might listen to, and be tempered by, a responsible hawk.
.. The notion that Kim Jong-un is going to abandon his nuclear arsenal is risible. What, other than reunification of Korea on Pyongyang’s terms, would Kim exchange his arsenal for?
Equally risible is the idea that his regime will ever abide by the terms of a deal. North Korea violates every agreement it signs.
.. might strike it at South Korea’s and perhaps Japan’s expense. This president has never been particularly fond of our two closest Asian allies, much less of the cost to the United States of aiding in their defense.
.. The promise of Pompeo is that he can provide ballast against some of Trump’s other gusts, particularly when it comes to the Kremlin.
- On Syria, he dismisses the possibility of a collaborative relationship with Russia.
- On Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he insists, “America has an obligation to push back.”
- On WikiLeaks, he calls it a “non-state hostile intelligence service.”
- On Russian interference in the U.S. election, he acknowledges it as incontrovertible fact and warns of the “Gerasimov doctrine” — the Russian conviction that it can use disinformation to win a bloodless war with the West.
.. If the thought that Putin has strings to pull with this president alarms you, Pompeo’s presence should be reassuring. However much you might otherwise disagree with him, the guy who graduated first in his class from West Point is not a Russian stooge.
.. he’d be smart to model his behavior on Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the administration’s one undisputed star, who thrives in his job because he’s plainly not afraid of losing it, much less of speaking his mind.
Trump’s lawyers have begged him not to tweet about Russia or the investigation, but the president said repeatedly Friday that he wanted to respond to the Flynn news, associates said.
Cobb has told others that he has been more successful than others at limiting Trump’s tweets because he talks to him frequently and reassures him
Meanwhile, an email written by a Flynn deputy that came to light Saturday suggests that many of Trump’s closest aides were informed that Flynn planned to discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador before Flynn made a December phone call to Kislyak.
.. Burck said that Priebus “confronted General Flynn several times, including in front of others, on whether he had talked to Kislyak about sanctions and was consistently told he had not.”
.. Trump was in a buoyant mood as he crossed Manhattan on Saturday, bragging about his election win in Rust Belt states and the improving economy.
At several stops, he touted the Senate’s passage of the GOP tax bill and predicted that Democrats who voted against it would lose their next elections.
Trump’s stops included the palatial Upper East Side apartment of Steve Schwarzman, chairman of a global private-equity firm.
.. Trump also told the wealthy donors at the event that the legislation was for the middle class