There are reports that Elliott Abrams will be Tillerson’s deputy at State:
Tillerson expected to pick Elliot Abrams as Deputy at State. Former Reagan State Dept official experienced conservative knows the Dept
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) February 4, 2017
Abrams’ name had been mentioned before, but it seemed hard to believe that Trump would want one of his most vehement critics in his administration. The “good” news is that Bolton won’t be getting the job after all, but in his place will be someone with an equally awful foreign policy record and similarly warped judgment. Abrams is a Bush administration veteran and one of the most committed Iraq war dead-enders. He has the added distinction of having been involved in the Iran-Contra scandal, and withheld information from Congress when they were investigating it. Putting him in an important foreign policy position gives us strong evidence that Trump and Tillerson both have poor judgment, and it tells us that we should expect that the administration’s foreign policy will become even more aggressive and meddlesome than it already has been.
Daniel DePetris laid out the case against appointing Abrams last month:
But if Trump indeed formally nominates Abrams, he will be promoting a man who has shown a willful disdain of congressional overseers to the point of being convicted on charges coming close to perjury. Can President Trump be assured that Abrams would be able to withstand the scrutiny during his confirmation hearings? And more importantly, is the neoconservative, unilateral interventionism that Abrams has advocated for throughout his career—and that led directly to the second Iraq War—the kind of foreign-policy doctrine that President Trump wants in his State Department?
One good thing about Trump’s success seemed to be that it would mean the exile of neoconservatives from important positions in the government for a few more years, but if this report is correct Trump has no problem giving them one of the more influential foreign policy jobs.
Update: Michael Crowley reports that Trump is close to making the final decision and will meet Abrams tomorrow.