National Security

Trump begins to peel back curtain on foreign policy team

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Donald Trump on Monday offered the longest list yet of his foreign policy and national security advisers after months of refusing to detail the experts he consults. 

In a meeting with The Washington Post’s editorial board, Trump named five people who have been added to an advisory team led by Sen. Jeff Sessions. The Alabama Republican was previously his only confirmed adviser on the issue. 

{mosads}First up is Walid Phares, a professor at the National Defense University who has testified on Capitol Hill about the Middle East and international security.

“He’s a counterterrorism expert,” Trump explained, according to the Post.

Also on the national security advisory committee, according to Trump, is Carter Page, an energy industry executive and former investment banker.

So is George Papadopoulos, a former adviser to Ben Carson who directs the London Centre of International Law Practice’s center on international energy law and security.

“He’s an oil and energy consultant,” Trump said. “Excellent guy.”

Trump also listed “the honorable Joe Schmitz,” a former Pentagon inspector general who now runs a consulting firm. Schmitz confirmed his presence on the advisory team to the Post and told the newspaper he has been a part of a series of conference calls and briefings in recent weeks.

The final name on Trump’s team is Keith Kellogg, a former lieutenant general in the Army who now works with an IT security consultant in Virginia.

“And I have quite a few more,” Trump insisted to the Post. “But that’s a group of some of the people that we are dealing with.

“We have many other people in different aspects of what we do,” he added. “But that’s a pretty representative group.”

The figures listed by Trump are not household names, and few appear to be veterans of the upper reaches of former Republican administrations, as is common for leading presidential contenders. Yet his decision to outline the framework of his national security team is likely to calm some nerves among GOP officials.

Trump’s campaign had previously refused to outline whom the GOP front-runner was listening to on national security and defense issues, worrying Republicans who feared that the billionaire real estate developer and reality TV show host was out of his depth.

Last week, Trump said his top foreign policy adviser was himself, “because I have a very good brain, and I’ve said a lot of things.” 

In previous instances, he has said that he watches “the shows” for advice.

The lack of clarity from Trump was especially notable given a strong backlash to his candidacy from a wide section of the Republican Party.

Earlier this month, more than 100 prominent Republican officials signed on to an open letter promising to oppose Trump, since he is “so utterly unfitted to the office” of president. 

Many analysts had wondered who would sign on to advise a man so openly derided by prominent members of his own party. 

The Monday announcement about Trump’s national security team came hours before he was scheduled to speak at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual policy conference, which was widely viewed as an opportunity for him to solidify a foreign policy vision.  

Tags Donald Trump Jeff Sessions
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