President-elect Donald Trump speaks during his meeting with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (AP)

Ex-George W. Bush counselor warns conservatives to stay away from Donald Trump administration filled with "unquestioning loyalty"

Another Republican comes forward to deliver a scathing attack of the Trump administration's transition team


Matthew Rozsa
November 16, 2016 6:56PM (UTC)

Eliot A. Cohen, a military historian who served as counselor of the State Department under President George W. Bush from 2007 to 2009, is warning fellow conservatives to stay away from the Trump administration.

"I am a national security Never-Trumper who, after the election, made the case that young conservatives should volunteer to serve in the new administration, warily, their undated letters of resignation ready," Cohen wrote in an editorial for The Washington Post on Tuesday night. "That advice, I have concluded, was wrong."

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Cohen went on to describe how one of his conservative friends "in Trumpworld" asked him to provide a list of names from the Republican foreign policy establishment who had not formally joined the Never Trump movement and might be willing to serve under President Trump. After complying with the request, Cohen says that the friend responded in an email "seething with anger directed at those of us who had opposed Donald Trump — even those who stood ready to help steer good people to an administration that understandably wanted nothing to do with the likes of me, someone who had been out front in opposing Trump since the beginning."

Although Cohen has since patched things up with his friend and characterized the email exchange as "a momentary eruption of temper," he also describes the exchange as a "tipping point" when it comes to his feelings about conservatives working in the Trump administration.

"In the best of times, government service carries with it the danger of compromising your principles," Cohen writes. "Here, though, we may be in for something much worse. The canary in the coal mine was not merely the selection of Stephen K. Bannon for the job previously filled by John Podesta and Karl Rove, that of counselor to the president and chief strategist. Rather, the warning signs came from the Republican leaders excusing and normalizing this sinister character — and those who then justified the normalizers."

Cohen's editorial may not come as a surprise to political observers who have been paying attention in the week since Trump's upset election over Hillary Clinton. On Tuesday, Cohen issued a tweet describing hostility with members of the Trump transition team that may have been referring to the anonymous friend mentioned in his piece for The Washington Post.

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Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Donald Trump Eliot Cohen President Donald Trump Republicans

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