National security advisor to the vice president sounds like an important job. And maybe it is. Who knows. It also sounds like the kind of job that would only really be important if the president were to die or become temporarily incapacitated.
Important or not, the position was held last week (briefly) by establishment “Republican” pollster and political strategist Jon Lerner – a rabid neoconservative #NeverTrumper and a longtime advisor to former South Carolina governor (and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations) Nikki Haley.
In fact, Lerner left his consulting firm and took a full-time job with Haley after she was appointed ambassador last January – and has been the driving force behind her glowing national press coverage ever since.
To be clear: We don’t especially like Lerner (and he has major beef with us dating back over a decade), but he’s done a good job advising Haley on the global stage – and has adeptly positioned her as one of the possible rivals to U.S. president Donald Trump in 2020.
His career with vice president Mike Pence (below) didn’t go nearly as well, though.
(Click to view)
(Via: The White House)
In fact it ended as soon as it began – not long after Trump’s press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted a picture of Lerner apparently giggling during a briefing on Syria inside the White House situation room over the weekend.
That photo (seen in the banner above) drew particular scrutiny from the media because Pence was on a plane to Peru at the time Sanders intimated he was in the situation room – prompting a round of media reports about the White House not shooting straight with the public.
We thought so …
— FITSNews.com ? (@fitsnews) April 15, 2018
Late Sunday, reporter Jonathan Swan of Axios reported that Lerner had “decided against joining Pence’s team.” Previously, Swan reported that Trump had “nearly blocked the Vice President from getting his chosen national security adviser.”
“Jon does not want to be a distraction,” a source told Swan. “He’s done incredible work with Nikki Haley and it’s important to our country that this work continues.”
Hold up … important to our country?
We agree Lerner has spun Haley masterfully to a fawning mainstream media, but seriously … important to our country?
That’s a pretty bold statement.
Anyway, Trump was reportedly “furious” upon hearing the news about Lerner owing to the latter’s starring role in the GOP establishment’s unsuccessful bid to kneecap his 2016 presidential bid.
“Why would Mike do that?” Trump reportedly said, according to Swan’s sources.
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The insider D.C. drama quickly got even hotter …
According to Swan, a well-placed leak to the left-leaning Washington Post regarding Lerner’s hiring “took White House officials by surprise.”
Questions were also allegedly raised inside the West Wing about Lerner’s qualifications (or lack thereof) when it came to national security issues – while Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly accused Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers of not making him “fully informed” of Lerner’s extensive #NeverTrump history.
Ayers disputed that contention, reportedly telling associates that the had “briefed Kelly on Lerner and also looped in other senior officials” within the Trump administration.
There were also concerns that Lerner – a devout zionist – was acting more as the eyes and ears of Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu than he was as an advisor to Pence. We noted as much in our initial reaction to the news of his hiring …
The United States of Israel … awesome. https://t.co/uhkE1Tdzlw
— FITSNews.com ? (@fitsnews) April 13, 2018
Whatever the reason, the scales quickly tipped against Lerner … with Trump’s rebuke sending him scurrying back to Haley’s office in New York, yarmulke in hand. Lerner’s unceremonious dismissal was also a clear shot across Haley’s bow, although our guess is it will do little to harm her national profile – which has ramped up considerably in recent weeks.
Does any of this insider personnel drama (which provided hours of excitement for our network of D.C. sources) ultimately matter in the grand scheme of American foreign policy? No … not really.
As we noted on Sunday, the neocons have succeeded in coopting Trump – turning the former non-interventionist into just another tool of our nation’s military-industrial complex.
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