11-18-16 New York Times
Trump has chosen three hawkish loyalists for key posts.
They are Senator Jeff Sessions as attorney general, Representative Mike Pompeo as C.I.A. director and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser.
All three are regarded as outliers from conventional Republican thinking, shunned in various ways for viewpoints that were seen as unacceptable or overly partisan.
Mr. Sessions, an Alabama conservative, was denied a federal judgeship by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986 because of racially charged comments.
“He’s one of the most strident anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-L.G.B.T. voices in the Senate,” said Marge Baker, executive vice president of People for the American Way, a liberal civil rights group in Washington.
Mr. Sessions, like Mr. Trump, has made tougher immigration policies a central priority. He has said President Obama’s Justice Department flouted the will of Congress by failing to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.
When many Republicans distanced themselves from Mr. Trump’s startling campaign proposal to ban Muslim immigration, Mr. Sessions said he was open to considering it in a Breitbart interview last December with Stephen K. Bannon.
As the nation’s top law enforcement officer, Mr. Sessions, and the political appointees under him, would hold wide discretion in shaping policies across the federal government and in overseeing the enforcement of federal laws at the F.B.I. and other agencies within the Justice Department.
His department would also play an important role in advising the White House on Supreme Court nominees and working to get them confirmed in the Senate.
Mr. Pompeo a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has criticized President Obama’s decision to shut down the C.I.A.’s black-site prisons and require interrogators to abide by anti-torture laws.
If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Pompeo would become one of the most overtly partisan figures to take over the C.I.A. — a spy agency that, at least publicly, is supposed to operate above politics and avoid a direct role in policy making.
He has advocated a return to the bulk collection of Americans’ domestic calling records — which Congress restricted though legislation last year.
It appears that Mr. Pompeo’s role in the Benghazi inquiry was a significant factor in Mr. Trump’s decision to select him to lead the C.I.A.
The select committee found no new evidence of wrongdoing by the Obama administration or Mrs. Clinton, but Mr. Pompeo and another Republican member of the committee, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, said they were convinced that there had been a cover-up. When the committee released its findings in June, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Jordan filed a 48-page addendum that said the attacks showed the State Department was “seemingly more concerned with politics and Secretary Clinton’s legacy than with protecting its people in Benghazi.”
Mr. Pompeo has close ties to Charles G. and David H. Koch, the billionaire conservatives who are among the most significant activists in financing Republican candidates nationwide. Their company, Koch Industries, and its employees have contributed $357,000 to Mr. Pompeo since 2009.
General Flynn was the angry voice of the national security establishment on the campaign trail. He describes Islam as a political ideology, not a religion, and has even called it a cancer.
General Flynn, 57, a registered Democrat, was Mr. Trump’s main national security adviser during his campaign. If he accepts Mr. Trump’s offer, as expected, he will be a critical gatekeeper for a president with little experience in military or foreign policy issues.
Mr. Trump and General Flynn both see themselves as brash outsiders who hustled their way to the big time. They both post on Twitter often about their own successes, and they have both at times crossed the line into outright Islamophobia.
They also both exhibit a loose relationship with facts: General Flynn, for instance, has said that Shariah, or Islamic law, is spreading in the United States (it is not). His dubious assertions are so common that when he ran the Defense Intelligence Agency, subordinates came up with a name for the phenomenon: They called them “Flynn facts.”
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.
Those potential conflicts of interest had led Mr. Trump’s transition team to worry that General Flynn might have difficulty winning confirmation for any post that, unlike the national security adviser role, requires congressional approval, such as director of the C.I.A.
“He is a very talented information gatherer,” said Sarah Chayes of the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, who worked with General Flynn when he ran military intelligence in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2011.
“But his thinking process is not sufficiently analytical to test some streams against others and make sense of it, or draw consistent conclusions,” she said. “If you listen to him, in 10 minutes you’ll hear him contradict himself two or three times.”