What Matters

Published: January 22, 2024

By Jim Lichtman
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Downtown Concord, New Hampshire, the state’s capitol.

Tomorrow, New Hampshire voters go to the polls for the first primary of the season where Republican voters appear poised to select front-runner and former president, Donald Trump, as the party’s candidate for a second term in the highest office in the federal government.

This is a good time to take a clear, hard look at what matters.

The New York Times compiled a list of former Trump appointees from his first administration. It’s important to emphasize that Trump, himself, appointed all these people, experienced people critical in running the government. These are the people the former president trusted until he didn’t and were replaced.

“He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.”—UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Jan. 8, 2021

“We don’t take an oath to a country. We don’t take an oath to a tribe. We don’t take an oath to a religion. We don’t take an oath to a king or a queen, or to a tyrant or a dictator. And we don’t take an oath to a wannabe dictator.”—Joint Chiefs Chair, Mark Milley, Sept. 29, 2023

“President Trump and other officials have repeatedly compromised our principles in pursuit of partisan advantage and personal gain.”—White House National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, Jan. 7, 2021

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society.”—Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, June 3, 2020

“I have a lot of concerns about Donald Trump. I have said that he’s a threat to democracy. I think the last year, certainly the last few months of Donald Trump’s presidency, will look like the first few months of the next one if that were to occur.”— Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper who replaced James Mattis, Oct. 1, 2023

“A person who admires autocrats and murderous dictators. A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution and the rule of law.”—The President’s chief of staff, John Kelly, Oct. 2, 2023

“It will always be, ‘Oh, yeah, you work for the guy who tried to overtake the government.’”—Acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney who replaced John Kelley and was himself replaced by Mark Meadows, Jan. 7, 2021

“I think the events at the Capitol, however they occurred, were shocking. And it was something that, as I mentioned in my statement, that I could not put aside.”—Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Choa, Aug. 4, 2022

“Unfortunately, the actions and rhetoric following the election, especially during this past week, threaten to tarnish these and other historic legacies of this administration. The attacks on the Capitol were an assault on our democracy and on the tradition of peaceful transitions of power that the United States of America first brought to the world.”—Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Alex Azar who replaced Thomas Price, Jan. 12, 2021

“Moron,” Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson reportedly said of Mr. Trump, July 20, 2017

“We need more seriousness, less noise, and leaders who are looking forward, not staring in the rearview mirror claiming victimhood.”—Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo who replaced Tillerson, Nov. 15, 2022

“It’s more than just a bunch of papers and what big deal is this and so forth. Lives can be lost.”—Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, July 27, 2023

“By the time I left the White House, I was convinced he was not fit to be president. … I think it is a danger for the United States if he gets a second term.”—National Security Advisor, John Bolton, June 22, 2023

“I didn’t feel he did what he needed to do to stop what was happening (regarding the attack on the Capitol building).”—Secretary of Education Nancy DeVos, Oct. 13, 2022

“The fact of the matter is he is a consummate narcissist, and he constantly engages in reckless conduct that puts his political followers at risk and the conservative and Republican agenda at risk.”—Attorney General, William Barr who replaced Jeff Sessions, June 18, 2023

“He asked me to put him over the Constitution and I chose the Constitution, and I always will.”—Vice President Mike Pence, Aug. 23, 2023

ALL of these people were screened and approved by Donald Trump.

What does that say about Trump’s ability to govern responsibly and ethically? What does it say about his fitness for office?

Thursday: What Really Matters.


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