December 12, 2016

The panel at Morning Joe today discussed The State Department under Donald Trump. The world wept.

Joe Scarborough is comforted by the fact that Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobile, is endorsed by Bush Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice (former board member of Chevron), Robert Gates (Board of Directors of Parker Drilling Company, which...has heavy investments drilling for oil in Kazakhstan, one of the former oil-rich Soviet-bloc countries) and James Baker (Reagan, Bush, Oil, Oil, Oil, LLC).

But the whole panel thinks John Bolton is a joke.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: David Sanger, let me ask you, what do you think the biggest concern for Tillerson among the senators that are going to be passing judgment on him? What do you think that biggest concern may be?

DAVID SANGER, NYT: You know, Joe, one of the oddities of working in the oil territory where Mr. Tillerson has been now for 41 years is that oil usually sits under the land that is run by some of the world's worst dictators. And he's going to have to if he gets into this job, reverse his normal instinct, which would be to basically make nice, strike the deal, and try to think in terms of human rights issues, think in terms of longer strategic relationships and he's going to be commanding a State Department that is the exact cultural opposite of ExxonMobil. It's leaky. It has a lot of dissent. I think that's going to be quite an adjustment.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Which your description of the State Department you've just described all of the reasons why John Bolton should not be his number two while he's

MIKA BREZINSKI -- you didn't mean to but you did.

SCARBOROUGH: While he's away, that's the last person you want in that position.

SANGER: You certainly want somebody who the building would think could manage the place well, who has a long history in diplomacy, and I'm not entirely sure that Mr. Bolton is someone many "in" people are eager to see.

SCARBOROUGH: That's a polite way of putting it.

BREZINSKI: He's crazier than Rudy Guiliani.

SANGER: The thing that Tillerson has going for him in Mr. Trump's mind is he does a lot of transactions. What jumped out at us what we did our long foreign policy interviews with Mr. Trump earlier in the year is that he views the world very transactionally. He's not an alliance builder. The big question for Rex Tillerson is he going to be equally transactional or can he compensate for that and figure out how to build long-term alliances that Michael and David were talking about.

SCARBOROUGH: Michael Crowley, when you look at a lot of these nominees, businesses are very well taken care of if you look at the background of these people. For Rex Tillerson himself, would you say he needs to be able to answer before congress or to the fact that he might need to look at those sanctions a different way?

MICHAEL CROWLEY: Absolutely. This goes back to what I was saying before. It's not clear that Trump himself wants to keep the sanctions. So Tillerson will become a vehicle for this larger debate about our larger policy toward Russia. You know, it may be an indication that Trump thinks those sanctions should be gone. Tillerson presumably would be in favor of that. He seems to think that they are counter-productive and stunting business and signs he thinks that business is the most important part of our foreign policy presence.

HAROLD FORD JR: To defend Tillerson, and I'm not being critical, the President was elected. I didn't vote for him. His world view is something the country has said we would like to pursue. So naturally I would hope if you're going before Congress, Congress has to remember these designees are the right of the President to choose. Tillerson is impressive in several regards. One in particular, the fact that he's dealt with these dictators that Sanger is talking about, he actually knows more about them than perhaps other Secretaries of State in the past.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: This is what impressed Trump and the team the most. Almost like everybody else that went before him was on a different level.

CROSSTALK: Practical versus theoretical. He likes practical. ....He's been there. ...He has an advantage.

SCARBOROUGH: He's been in Venezuela. They tried to stiff arm him. All other oil companies stayed down there. Rex Tillerson basically said screw you guys. Got on his plane and came home and people were shocked that he took that tough of a stance against Venezuela. He has had real world experience.

(OFF CAMERA) What was your gut when you spoke with him?

SCARBOROUGH: I can vouch for no one. It certainly helps that I know that Condi, Bob Gates, and Jim Baker consider him up for the job, especially Condi Rice, that she never talked to Donald Trump until she called him and said get this guy as Secretary of State.

BREZINSKI: They all know him.

SCARBOROUGH: I will tell you, I have been very critical of [Trump's] other choices for Secretary of State. People that I did know, and I was very concerned. I don't know Rex Tillerson that well. I will tell you at least from my conversations with him, I'm pretty comfortable. I'm very comfortable actually in him being able to do the job. My biggest concerns have to do with Russia, Israel, and many of the state department. Because as David Sanger said, the State Department will cut you into a million pieces. If you're a CEO that says I'm used to doing what I want to do and I say I'm going to do this, they will chop you up day in and day out with leaks. I will tell you this, if John Bolton is Rex Tillerson's number two, I am very, very concerned because Bolton doesn't have what it takes to nail the place down while Tillerson is overseas. By the way, why would Donald Trump pick a guy who still thinks invading Iraq was a good idea? This is madness by the way. I keep hearing John Bolton's name. This guy still believes knowing everything that we know that we should have invaded Iraq. How does that line up with anything Donald Trump --

RICK TYLER: ...with his world view. Over the course of the campaign, Donald Trump giving us a foreign policy that was not interventionist. You're going to appoint one of the biggest neoconservatives to your administration doesn't square.

FORD: These are the same guys that told us there were weapons of mass destruction. He uses that line to defend himself yet we're hearing a John Bolton is being considered?

BREZINSKI: I don't believe it. It's not going to happen.

SCARBOROUGH: It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. By the way, that's the last thing Rex Tillerson needs. If Rex Tillerson gets somebody that knows how to run State while he's doing his job across the world, then I personally again it means very little but I'm personally comfortable. He is in a different league.

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