Flournoy: Mattis would be an 'outstanding' candidate for Pentagon

Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis would be an "outstanding candidate" to lead the Pentagon, according to Michèle Flournoy, a Democrat who was seen as a top Defense secretary candidate in a Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIf Mueller's report lacks indictments, collusion is a delusion Conservatives wage assault on Mueller report The wisdom of Trump's lawyers, and the accountability that must follow Mueller's report MORE administration.

Mattis met over the weekend with President-elect Trump, who said the retired general was being considered as a nominee for the top Defense job.

"Gen. Mattis is a storied and much respected military leader. He's a student of history. He's a strategic thinker and he also real passion for the care of the men and women in the U.S. military and their families," Flournoy, the former No. 3 ranking official at the Pentagon, told NPR on Monday. 

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"So i think he would be an outstanding candidate," she said.

Mattis retired as commander of U.S. Central Command in 2013 amid disagreements with the Obama administration on its approach to Iran. Mattis was a vocal critic of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by the Obama administration. 

The retired general would need a waiver from Congress to serve as Defense secretary given restrictions on members of the military leading the Pentagon. 

Flournoy said that other than Mattis, she is concerned with some of the other names who are under consideration for top national security jobs in the Trump administration. 

Trump has appointed Retired Army Gen. Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, as national security adviser. The post does not require congressional confirmation.

"You don't have a lot of people with deep experience advising presidents, formulating foreign policy, managing crises," Flournoy said. "A lot of experience in the operational domain but not a lot of experience working at the presidential level. 

"You contrast it with 2008 when President Obama came in — he didn't have a lot of foreign policy experience — he appointed the likes of [former Defense Secretaries] Bob Gates, of Leon Panetta, people who had decades of experience advising presidents, so I would hope to see in the coming appointments that kind of experience being brought to the team," she said. 

Flournoy, co-founder of the Center for a New American Security, questioned whether Flynn could be an honest broker for Trump who would provide the new president with an assortment of views.

"You could have a national security adviser who thinks his job is just personally advising the president, rather than bringing to bear the best information and analysis, the best expertise from across the U.S. government, military and foreign service, and so forth," she said. 

"The national security adviser really has to be an honest broker that brings that diversity of views to the president, including dissent and the question is will Mike Flynn make that transition from personal adviser to national security adviser," she said.