John Bolton re­port­edly con­sid­ered for Cabi­net

Baltimore na­tive is dis­cussed as po­ten­tial sec­re­tary of state

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By John Fritze

WASH­ING­TON — Even when he was a stu­dent at the McDonogh School, John Bolton had a flair for for­eign pol­icy — and a sharp tongue that was some­times less than diplo­matic.

A life­long con­ser­va­tive, Bolton had a nick­name for a beloved lib­eral his­tory teacher at the Owings Mills school he at­tended as U.S. in­volve­ment in Viet­nam was es­ca­lat­ing: “Mao.”

Now, a half-cen­tury later, the Baltimore na­tive is one of at least two can­di­dates Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump is con­sid­er­ing for sec­re­tary of state, a mar­quee Cabi­net post that will sig­nal to the world what kind of White House the busi­ness­man and po­lit­i­cal out­sider in­tends to lead.

“He’d be a nice fit,” said for­mer CIA an­a­lyst Fred Fleitz, who worked for Bolton at the State De­part­ment un­der Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush. “I think he lines up very closely with Trump, es­pe­cially on the Iran deal.” Mary­lan­der and for­mer U.S. Am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions John Bolton.

For­mer New York Mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani is also a top con­tender for the job. But his can­di­dacy was thrown into ques­tion Tues­day af­ter­noon as re­ports emerged of Gi­u­liani’s paid con­sult­ing work for for­eign gov­ern­ments.

Bolton, 67, would be a hugely con­tro­ver­sial choice to be the na­tion’s top diplo­mat. De­spised by Democrats, and viewed war­ily by many in his own party, Bolton — a for­mer U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions — has been crit­i­cized not only for his hawk­ish po­si­tions but also for an abrupt rhetoric that has of­ten flared rather than eased ten­sions.

In that sense, Bolton is not that dif­fer­ent from Trump.

He once said the 39-story United Na­tions’ Sec­re­tariat Build­ing in New York could lose 10 floors and it “wouldn’t make a bit of dif­fer­ence.” As a mem­ber of the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, he drew international at­ten­tion ahead of talks with North Korea in 2006 when he called Kim Jong Il a “tyran­ni­cal dic­ta­tor.”

Like Trump, Bolton has been crit­i­cal of the Iran nu­clear agree­ment ne­go­ti­ated by the U.S, Bri­tain, China, France, Ger­many and Rus­sia.

But he dif­fers sharply from the in­com­ing pres­i­dent on other for­eign pol­icy ques­tions. Trump said fre­quently dur­ing the cam­paign that he op­posed the Iraq war; Bolton was an ar­chi­tect of the 2003 U.S. in­va­sion. Trump has sought an­other “re­set” of U.S. re­la­tions with Rus­sia; Bolton has taken a more con­fronta­tional ap­proach with Moscow.

Repub­li­can Sen. Rand Paul, a mem­ber of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, launched a pre-emp­tive strike against a Bolton nom­i­na­tion on Tues­day.

“Bolton is a long­time mem­ber of the failed Wash­ing­ton elite that Trump vowed to op­pose, hell-bent on re­peat­ing vir­tu­ally ev­ery for­eign pol­icy mis­take the U.S. has made in the last 15 years — par­tic­u­larly those Trump promised to avoid as pres­i­dent,” he wrote in an in­ter­net op-ed on Tues­day. “No man is more out of touch with the sit­u­a­tion in the Mid­dle East or more dan­ger­ous to our na­tional se­cu­rity than Bolton.”

As Paul’s op-ed was picked up by na­tional me­dia, few came to Bolton’s de­fense.

The son of a Baltimore fire­fighter, Bolton grew up in a row­house in a work­ing-class neigh­bor­hood be­hind Mount Saint Joseph High School. From McDonogh, he went to Yale Col­lege and Yale Law School, where he was a class­mate of Bill Clin­ton and Hil­lary Rod­ham.

Bolton worked in the Nixon White House and served as gen­eral coun­sel for the U.S. Agency for International De­vel­op­ment be­fore join­ing the State De­part­ment.

Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush named Bolton un­der sec­re­tary of state for arms con­trol and international se­cu­rity af­fairs, a post he held from 2001 un­til 2005. Bush then nom­i­nated him to be am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions.

When it be­came clear Bolton was un­likely to win Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion, Bush used a re­cess ap­point­ment to put him in the job.

Bolton, now a se­nior fel­low at the Amer­i­can Enterprise In­sti­tute, de­clined to com­ment Tues­day.

Bolton is one of sev­eral Re­pub­li­cans from Mary­land who could have a role in Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. The re­li­ably blue state voted over­whelm­ingly for Clin­ton last week, but is nev­er­the­less home to a num­ber of Re­pub­li­cans who are well con­nected in Wash­ing­ton.

David Bossie, a po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist from Mont­gomery County who this year took a more ac­tive role in the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee, might wind up run­ning it. Bossie, the head of Ci­ti­zens United, or­ches­trated a suc­cess­ful cam­paign this year to be a Repub­li­can com­mit­tee­man from Mary­land. He then be­came a deputy cam­paign man­ager for Trump.

Now Bossie is con­sid­ered a top can­di­date to suc­ceed Reince Priebus, the cur­rent party chair­man, who was named over the week­end as Trump’s in­com­ing chief of staff.

Aides to for­mer Mary­land Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. de­clined to say whether he is dis­cussing a po­si­tion de­spite re­ports Tues­day that he had met with mem­bers of Trump’s tran­si­tion team. Nei­ther the for­mer gover­nor nor a spokes­woman for Trump re­sponded to mes­sages.

Re­tired John Hop­kins neu­ro­sur­geon Ben Carson was con­sid­ered a can­di­date to head the De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices or the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion un­der Trump.

The renowned physi­cian, who ran an un­suc­cess­ful pres­i­den­tial cam­paign this year, has been an out­spo­ken critic of the Af­ford­able Care Act, and of­ten dis­cusses how ed­u­ca­tion pulled him out of poverty and into medicine.

But the for­mer Baltimore County man re­moved him­self from the run­ning for ei­ther job Tues­day. A Carson aide told The Hill news­pa­per that the con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­can “feels he has no gov­ern­ment ex­pe­ri­ence,” and “the last thing he would want to do was take a po­si­tion that could crip­ple the pres­i­dency.”

Rep. Andy Har­ris, a Hop­kins anes­the­si­ol­o­gist, has said he spo­ken to the Trump tran­si­tion team about med­i­cal pol­icy but not does ex­pect a job in the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

A week af­ter his his­toric upset in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion over Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton, Trump was in Man­hat­tan with Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence as the two met with tran­si­tion of­fi­cials in an ef­fort to staff up his se­nior ad­vis­ers.

Even as Trump nar­rowed in on top ap­point­ments, there were signs of tu­mult within his tran­si­tion team. For­mer Rep. Mike Rogers, a well-re­spected Repub­li­can voice on na­tional se­cu­rity, an­nounced his res­ig­na­tion from the tran­si­tion team Tues­day, a move likely to rat­tle GOP of­fi­cials who worry about Trump’s lack of for­eign pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence.

Trump spokesman Ja­son Miller cast the meet­ing with Pence as a sig­nif­i­cant step in the process to­ward nom­i­nat­ing Cabi­net sec­re­taries.

“If the vice pres­i­dent-elect is get­ting to­gether with the pres­i­dent-elect to dis­cuss names, I would say it’s get­ting se­ri­ous,” Miller said.

Just how soon Trump would an­nounce Cabi­net posts such as sec­re­tary of state is un­clear. Who­ever gets the job will suc­ceed for­mer Sen. John Kerry.

“I would say Bolton is a very self­con­fi­dent man of ac­tion, but he has a cer­tain lack of diplo­matic skills,” said Daryl G. Kim­ball, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Wash­ing­ton-based Arms Con­trol As­so­ci­a­tion.

“He is dis­dain­ful of international in­sti­tu­tions and mul­ti­lat­eral ini­tia­tives,” Kim­ball added, “and so he has a well-earned rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing a bull in the international china shop.”

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