Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on – broadcast on Nashville’s weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil W. McCabe to the newsmakers line.
During the third hour, McCabe gave his take on the recent peace treaties initiated by the Trump administration and the president’s true character when it comes to working within Washington and how he’s been sidelined.
Leahy: Crom Carmichael in the studio and we are joined on the line by the national correspondent for the Tennessee Star and the Star News Network. Veteran Washington journalist Neil W. McCabe. Good morning Neil. How are you doing?
McCabe: Good morning Mike. Good morning Crom. Good to be with you.
Leahy: Peace is breaking out in the Middle East and all of the neo-cons, their heads must be exploding.
McCabe: Yeah, peace is really bad for business Mike. And usually, the President of the United States when the economy is kind of in trouble the president will start a war and try to get things moving. It’s kind of unusual for a president to try to prevent wars. He’s actually withdrawing troops from the Middle East and he’s negotiating peace treaties. Kind of counter-intuitive. But there is Trump again breaking all the rules.
Leahy: Now how is the national security establishment responding to all of this?
McCabe: Well the national security establishment and like every institution or every organization there are factions. There was also sort of a Republican faction and there’s always a Democrat faction. And when the president of a different party changed, different people would be in the lead.
One of the things that are making it difficult for Trump is that Obama was so good at purging out the conservatives and the Republicans from the Pentagon and the national security apparatus. And so what should have happened when a Republican takes the White House is all of those Republicans who are hiding under their desks for eight years they all pop up and sort of taking over.
And we saw this back and forth with Bush to Clinton and then back to Bush and then to Obama. What should have happened is that the Republicans sort of took those positions and were supportive of the president. That doesn’t exist anymore. The Left is now in complete control of the national security state and especially the FBI and especially the Pentagon.
Leahy: Now, let me ask you this. I’m prognosticating a little bit. If the president were to be, paint me two scenarios. What would happen with the national security apparatus that you now say and all the evidence seems to confirm that the Left is now in complete control of? What happens under a second Trump administration? And compare that to what would happen under a Harris-Biden administration. (Laughs) Notice the Harris-Biden administration is now the term we use to describe the campaign.
McCabe: In that second scenario where President Harris takes over, that it will be happy days are here again. Remember Obama campaigned for re-election saying that he took the troops out of Iraq as he promised. And then a year after his re-election the troops are back in Iraq. And now they are in Syria.
And now if you say to somebody why do we have troops in Syria? The Obama people would say what are you crazy? You have to have troops in Syria. Like what idiot doesn’t have troops in Syria. I think the contracts would flow and everybody will have a good time. It’s that third term of the Obama administration that everybody was dreaming about four years ago.
Carmichael: Neil, I have a question for you.
McCabe: Sure man.
Carmichael: If Obama could rid the State Department and the FBI of people that he didn’t like, why hasn’t Trump done the same thing?
McCabe: Well the first thing is that Trump himself thought that he could win people over by the force of his personality. And I’m not talking about the personality you see at a rally. I’m talking about his one on one. He thought if you look at how he dealt with Comey it’s almost like he was dating Comey.
Private dinners at the White House. Text messages. Hey here’s Jim Comey. What a great looking FBI Director. Trump thought he could just win people over. He also tried to run a coalition government. He said hey, bygones are bygones. A lot of you guys in the Republican establishment didn’t support me but I’m going to bring you in. Reince Priebus basically became the chief of staff.
But also Paul Ryan had tremendous influence placing people in the Trump administration. And he just assumed that because he gave Paul Ryan’s friends jobs they were going to become part of his administration and agenda. But what he did was he basically invited in all of these scoundrels and swamp rats that he ran against.
And so in the second term people wise up and I think it’s good that people are going to be more direct. I think you are already seeing it in the last year. A lot of people are getting fired and retiring and moving on. So it will just be more of the same in the second term. But it just took a while because Trump, unfortunately despite what he’s portrayed as he is a guy that believes if you shake somebody’s hand, pat them on the back, you cut a deal and you say you are going to work together and he thought that would stick and it didn’t.
Carmichael: That’s interesting. I think that’s a pretty good explanation whereas Obama went in and he knew full well that he wanted to get hardcore leftist partisans in positions of power and that’s just what he did. I think George Bush was similar to Trump in that he didn’t recognize just how bad some of these people were that were there from the Clinton days.
McCabe: Bush also had some other things going on. He was fighting two wars and so he never liked in the Justice Department particularly he was never able to flush out all the people that Clinton had burrowed in there.
Carmichael: Do you think that Barr has identified people that need to be replaced and he has started the process?
Carmichael: OK. I’m going to guess Sessions did nothing. I’m going to guess he terminated no one that was an anti-Trump person in there. That’s interesting.
McCabe: Yes. Sessions was surrounded by snakes and wolves and phantoms and ghosts and goblins. He was absolutely over his head. He was ambushed from the minute he got in there. He was surrounded by all the holdovers. And remember Obama started taking the political guys and getting them into civil service jobs in his last two years.
Remember what they did at the White House. They took this young radical woman who worked as a political appointee under Obama and right before the inauguration they made her a Civil Service Secretary in the White House so that she could just report back everything that was going on inside.
Leahy: Is she still there?
McCabe: No, no. They flushed her out. But it just takes a while.
Leahy: It took a while to get her out, yeah.
McCabe: It takes every new administration two or three years to figure it out. Everyone forgets how screwed up the first two years of the Obama staff was or Clinton’s first two years. Well, he only wants people who agree with him. I don’t remember Obama appointing people who disagreed with him.
Leahy: That’s the point of winning the election isn’t it!
Carmichael: I also think Trump likes to have people of different opinions in a meeting. My understanding is that he asks very pointed questions. And he enjoys debate among the advisors. And then once he makes his decision on which way to go he expects everybody to toe the line and support the decision.
Carmichael: So people like John Bolton didn’t like that. He thought his opinion should be dispositive.
McCabe: In business, you have a contract and if somebody betrays the contract you sue them. In the government, there is no contract. you don’t sue John Bolton for going against the policy.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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