New administration takes shape in U.S.

  • World, Published on: Saturday 19th November 16 - 8:22pm

Michael Flynn picked as NSA and Sen. Sessions as Attorney General; Rep. Pompeo to head CIA

President-elect Donald Trump is moving ahead with filling key posts in his administration, picking Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for the job of attorney general and Rep. Mike Pompeo as head of the CIA.

The announcements came on the heels of Mr. Trump’s decision to tap former military intelligence chief Michael Flynn as national security adviser. A Trump official did not say whether Se. Sessions or Mr. Flynn had accepted the job, leaving open the possibility that those two arrangements were not finalised.

Sen. Sessions and Rep. Pompeo would both require Senate confirmation before assuming their designated roles; Mr. Flynn would not.

There could be some hurdles for Sessions, even with Republicans in control of the chamber. When Mr. Sessions was nominated to be a federal judge in 1986, he was dogged by racist comments he was accused of making while serving as U.S. attorney in Alabama.

“Mr. Sessions is a throwback to a shameful era, which I know both black and white Americans thought was in our past,” the late Massachusetts Democrat, Edward Kennedy, said during the 1986 confirmation hearing. “It is inconceivable to me that a person of this attitude is qualified to be a U.S. attorney, let alone a U.S. federal judge.”

Mr. Sessions later withdrew from consideration, though he went on to become State Attorney General and won election to the Senate in 1996. Rep. Pompeo is a conservative Republican and a fierce critic of President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Mr. Flynn was a fierce critic of President Barack Obama’s military and foreign policy long before he began advising Trump on national security issues during the presidential campaign. While the position of National Security Adviser doesn’t require Senate confirmation, Mr. Flynn would work in the West Wing and have frequent access to the President.

Straight talker

Mr. Flynn, who turns 58 next month, had built a reputation as an astute intelligence professional and straight talker when he became the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012. After retiring two years later, he made clear he took issue with the Obama administration’s approach to global affairs and fighting Islamic State militants. Mr. Flynn has called for Washington to work more closely with Moscow, echoing similar statements from Mr. Trump. But his warmth toward Russia has worried some national security experts.

Mr. Flynn travelled last year to Moscow, where he joined Russian President Vladimir Putin and other officials in a celebration of RT, a television channel funded by the Russian government. He later explained that he had been paid for taking part in the event, but brushed aside concerns that he was aiding a Russian propaganda effort.

Mr. Trump is a foreign policy novice and his early moves on national security are being closely watched both in the U.S. and overseas. He’s said to be considering a range of officials with varying degrees of experience to lead the State Department and Pentagon.

Mr. Trump has also consulted with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and sat down with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a potential contender to lead the State Department. In a gesture of reconciliation with establishment Republicans, Mr. Trump planned to meet with 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. — AP