Remember when Trump ran in 2016 and cited his business expertise as proof that he would hire “the best people”? Well, he shot himself in the foot over that because while he may have often hired the best people, there were plenty of not-so-great people as well. Trump’s biggest mistake was letting people into his administration who couldn’t be trusted and may well have been there only to sabotage him (Omarosa comes to mind). That was bad enough. But as we speculate about Trump’s plans for 2024, one question that needs to be asked is: “Who would serve in a second Trump administration?”
It’s actually not an easy question, and yet, it needs to be asked because some of his best “hires” also ended up being trashed by Trump.
First and foremost is Mike Pence. Trump and Pence couldn’t be more different, but together, they created a balance that made it easier for people who were leery of Trump in 2016 to actually vote for him. I was one of them. I was absolutely not on the Trump Train in 2016, only jumping on board very late in the campaign. But Pence refused to use a power that he never had to stop the certification of the Electoral College. Do I believe there was fraud in 2020? Yes. Do I believe that fraud may have changed the results of the election? Yes. Do I believe Pence had the authority to do anything about it? Nope. Gutless state legislatures that refused to do anything about it are to blame. The courts refusing to hear cases over “standing” was to blame. Pence couldn’t do a thing about it. Trump essentially ditched Pence after that, and it was wrong to do so.
And then there’s Jeff Sessions. I’ve been saying for a long time that Trump should lay off Jeff Sessions, and I still believe that. Sessions endorsed Trump early on in his campaign, at great political risk. In the wake of the terrible politicization of the Justice Department after the Obama years, Jeff Sessions, as attorney general, did an amazing job. But Trump’s issue with Sessions came down to his recusal from matters on the election. That didn’t sit well with Trump. It ultimately gave us the Mueller investigation into bogus claims of Russian collusion. It was an unfortunate waste of time and money, but Sessions insisted that his recusal was legally and politically necessary. But when Sessions ran for his old Senate seat, Trump destroyed his chances of winning the primary against Tommy Tuberville. I have no issue with Tuberville, but I never questioned Sessions’ commitment to making America great again. Trump destroyed him anyway.
More recently, Trump has been highly critical of Bill Barr, another attorney general who did a lot to clean up the DOJ but was stymied by the bureaucracy in ways that Trump couldn’t accept.
And how amount Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis? Mattis’s departure was reportedly connected to his opposition to Trump’s plans to withdraw from Syria. When Mattis resigned, rather than praise him for his service and acknowledge the tremendous progress they’d made together cleaning up the mess left by Obama, Trump trashed Mattis as “the world’s most overrated general.”
Trump also lambasted former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as “dumb as a rock,” and described his former chief of staff, John Kelly, as being “in over his head.” Any loyalty these men and others felt toward Trump was effectively destroyed, opening Trump to criticism from these very men looking to restore their reputations after being attacked by the most powerful man in the world.
Currently, I’m all for a Trump redemption in 2024 if he chooses to run. Based on the way Biden is making a mess of things, I think Trump would win easily. But I have sincere questions about who would want to serve in his administration, given his history of trashing people when they’re gone or on their way out the door.