Trump taps Pom­peo, Ses­sions for top jobs

Flynn named na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON: Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump yes­ter­day tapped arch-con­ser­va­tive Alabama Se­na­tor Jeff Ses­sions to be at­tor­ney gen­eral and hawk­ish con­gress­man Mike Pom­peo, a stri­dent op­po­nent of the Iran nu­clear deal, as his CIA di­rec­tor.

The in­com­ing com­man­der in chief also ap­pointed re­tired lieu­tenant gen­eral Michael Flynn, a top mil­i­tary coun­sel to the Repub­li­can bil­lion­aire and one of his ear­li­est cam­paign sur­ro­gates, as his na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor. All three have ac­cepted their ap­point­ments, Trump’s tran­si­tion team said in state­ment. “I en­thu­si­as­ti­cally em­brace Pres­i­dent-elect Trump’s vi­sion for ‘one Amer­ica,’ and his com­mit­ment to equal jus­tice un­der law,” said Ses­sions, a 20-year vet­eran of Congress.

“I look for­ward to ful­fill­ing my du­ties with an un­wa­ver­ing ded­i­ca­tion to fair­ness and im­par­tial­ity,” added the 69-year-old, who was also one of Trump’s ear­li­est back­ers.

Trump de­scribed him in the state­ment as a “world-class le­gal mind” who was “greatly ad­mired by le­gal schol­ars and vir­tu­ally ev­ery­one who knows him.”

The ap­point­ments rep­re­sent the pres­i­dent-elect’s first steps to ap­point a cab­i­net af­ter a tran­si­tion ef­fort that so far has been marred by in­fight­ing and reshuf­fles on the team get­ting ready for the Jan­uary 20 in­au­gu­ra­tion.

For di­rec­tor of the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency, Trump tapped Pom­peo: A con­gress­man who be­came well known in the con­tro­versy over a deadly mil­i­tant at­tack against the US con­sulate in Benghazi, Libya in 2012. “He will be a bril­liant and un­re­lent­ing leader for our in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity to en­sure the safety of Amer­i­cans and our al­lies,” Trump was quoted as say­ing in the state­ment.

The 52-year-old co-au­thored a re­port slam­ming then-sec­re­tary of state Hil­lary Clin­ton’s han­dling of the at­tack, in which the US am­bas­sador and three other Amer­i­cans died. And as na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, Trump turned to the 57-year-old Flynn, who is set to play a key role in shap­ing pol­icy for a pres­i­dent with no ex­pe­ri­ence in gov­ern­ment or for­eign pol­icy.

“I am pleased that Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Michael Flynn will be by my side as we work to de­feat rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism, nav­i­gate geopo­lit­i­cal chal­lenges and keep Amer­i­cans safe at home and abroad,” Trump said. A reg­is­tered Demo­crat, Flynn served as Trump’s lead­ing na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser dur­ing the cam­paign and was a highly vis­i­ble sur­ro­gate, with a hard­line stance on Is­lamic ex­trem­ism. He de­scribed it in an in­ter­view with the New York Times as an ex­is­ten­tial threat on a global scale.

Flynn is highly re­spected as a dec­o­rated mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer who helped com­bat in­sur­gent net­works in Afghanistan and Iraq. But he left the mil­i­tary af­ter Pres­i­dent Barack Obama fired him as head of the De­fense In­tel­li­gence Agency in 2014 fol­low­ing com­plaints about his lead­er­ship style. Flynn’s ap­point­ment does not need ap­proval from the se­nate. But that of Ses­sions as at­tor­ney gen­eral does, and he’s got bag­gage: Racially charged com­ments he made in the 1980s and which once cost him a chance for a job for life as a fed­eral judge.

Back in 1986 Ses­sions said that a prom­i­nent white lawyer was a “dis­grace to his race” for de­fend­ing African-Amer­i­cans. Ses­sions ac­knowl­edged say­ing this in tes­ti­mony to the US Se­nate at the time, but he in­sisted he did not mean it.

In the 1980s he also al­legedly ad­dressed a black prose­cu­tor work­ing for him as “boy,” and joked about the Ku Klux Klan, say­ing he had thought its mem­bers were “OK, un­til I found out they smoked pot,” ac­cord­ing to The New York Times. — AFP

This com­bi­na­tion of pic­tures cre­ated yes­ter­day shows (L to R) US Rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Kansas Mike Pom­peo, Re­tired Lt Gen Michael Flynn and Se­na­tor Jeff Ses­sions. — AFP

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