The chaos that characterized the incoming Trump administration in late 2016 and early 2017 is vividly illustrated in a bombshell report by Axios, which has obtained an abundance of leaked vetting documents from the transition to the Trump administration. And the documents offer insights on everyone from Gen. David Petraeus to former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
The document on Petraeus shows the general in a positive light. Petraeus was considered for two different positions: secretary of state and national security adviser. But there was a red flag with Petraeus: the vetting document states, “Petraeus is opposed to torture” — which speaks well of him but evidently, was considered problematic by the transition team.
With Mick Mulvaney, Axios reports, there were a number of red flags — one of which is Mulvaney saying that President Donald Trump “is not a very good person.” Nonetheless, Mulvaney went on to serve in the Trump administration in various capacities and is presently acting White House chief of staff.
One of the red flags with former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the one-time petroleum executive’s ties to Russia. “Tillerson’s Russia ties go deep,” the vetting document on him reads. Regardless, Tillerson was confirmed as secretary of state, but Trump later fired him and insulted him on Twitter.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was considered for secretary of state during the transition period, but according to Axios’ report, Trump’s transition team “was so worried about Rudy Giuliani” that it put together a 25-page document on him titled “Rudy Giuliani Business Ties Research Dossier.” Giuliani’s “foreign entanglements,” according to Axios, were a major concern.
The vetting documents for Kobach, who was considered for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by the transition team, illustrate his racism. Kobach was a prominent “birther” during Barack Obama’s presidency — that is, someone who promoted the racist conspiracy theory that Obama wasn’t really a U.S. citizen. And in Kobach’s vetting documents, “white supremacy” is listed as a potential problem.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham was considered for White House press secretary, but the red flag with her was, “Ingraham said people should wear diapers instead of sharing bathrooms with transgender people.” The position eventually went to Sean Spicer.
Axios obtained vetting documents for many others as well, including Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, National Security Adviser John Bolton and former White House Counsel Don McGahn.