All the ex-Trump officials who refuse to endorse him in 2024

Mike Pence joins an ever-growing list of former allies and cabinet members declining to back the Republican presidential contender this time round

Joe Sommerlad
Monday 18 March 2024 17:45 GMT
Mike Pence says he won’t endorse Donald Trump for president

Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s estranged former vice president, has definitively vowed that he will not be endorsing his old boss for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

Mr Trump is now the nominee-presumptive after passing the delegate threshold on 12 March – one week after his last remaining rival, Nikki Haley, bowed out of the race in the aftermath of Super Tuesday.

But, despite Mr Trump’s securing of the Republican nomination, Mr Pence – who also briefly took on the former president in the Republican primary race – told Fox News host Martha MacCallum on 15 March that he does not have his support.

“It should come as no surprise that I will not be endorsing Donald Trump this year,” he said.

“But that being said, during my presidential campaign, I made it clear that there were profound differences between me and President Trump on a range of issues, and not just our difference on my constitutional duties that I exercised on January 6.”

The two men are apparently irreconcilable in the wake of the events of 6 January 2021, when a mob of MAGA supporters stormed the US Capitol in an attempt to stop the formal certification of the election results.

Mr Pence was presiding over the ceremony in Congress at the time and had refused Mr Trump’s calls to overturn the election in his favour – something that he did not have the power to do anyway.

His refusal to comply – and Mr Trump’s efforts to blame his second-in-command for his failure to seize power –notoriously inspired some members of the crowd to chant “Hang Mike Pence!” and to erect a gallows on Capitol Hill, as the vice president, his family and fellow lawmakers were spirited away to safety in fear for their lives.

Now, Mr Pence’s announcement that he won’t back his former boss this time round sees the former vice president joining an ever-growing list of ex-Trump administration officials who are now refusing to back his latest White House bid – many of them going so far as to say they no longer believe him to be fit for office.

Here’s a look at the other former Trump officials who are refusing to endorse him in 2024:

Bill Barr

Bill Barr
Bill Barr (Fox News)

Mr Trump’s hand-picked former attorney general, who once shielded him from the Mueller report, has been openly critical of the 45th president in recent months.

Mr Barr resigned his post shortly after the Justice Department found no evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, contradicting Mr Trump’s baseless narrative that the presidency was stolen from him by a vast, nationwide conspiracy orchestrated to President Joe Biden’s advantage.

Speaking on Fox News in December, Mr Barr said: “One of the reasons I’m against Trump as the nominee is I don’t think he’s going to move the country forward.”

When NBC News asked him in July how he would vote if it came down to a Biden-Trump match-up, Mr Barr answered wryly: “I’ll jump off that bridge when I get to it.”

That same month, he also told CBS’s Face the Nation that Mr Trump is like “a defiant nine-year-old kid who’s always pushing his glass towards the end of the table, defying his parents to stop him from doing it”.

John Bolton

John Bolton
John Bolton (Sky News)

The former national security adviser who left the administration accrimoniously in September 2019 has said that he will not vote for Mr Trump in this year’s election. Instead, he said he will do the same thing that he did in 2020 – write in the name of an alternative conservative candidate of his own choosing.

Speaking to CNN in July, Mr Bolton said: “I always like to vote for a conservative Republican. Between Biden and Trump, there was no conservative on the ballot. So I wrote in the name of a conservative, and I would do the same in 2024.”

He added: “I think in private, honest conversations, almost all of Trump’s cabinet members and other senior advisers would agree that Trump is not fit to be president.”

HR McMaster

HR McMaster
HR McMaster (Getty)

An earlier national security adviser, General McMaster said on CNN’s State of the Union as early as 17 January 2021, less than two weeks after the Capitol riot, that it would “terribly divisive for our country for him to run again.”

It’s certainly working out that way.

Mark Esper

Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper last June whether Mr Trump could ever be trusted with national security secrets again, his former defence secretary Mark Esper answered: “No!”

He added that the former president’s “irresponsible actions” in storing boxes of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida had placed servicemembers and the country at risk.

Jim Mattis

Jim Mattis
Jim Mattis (Getty)

Another former Trump administration defence secretary, General Mattis is also unlikely to support him again after he stepped down over his position on Syria in December 2018 and denounced Mr Trump as a threat to the Constitution – angered by his authoritarian response to the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted in summer 2020 following the death of George Floyd.

“We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution,” Mad Dog thundered.

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people – does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us.”

General Mattis has since accused Mr Trump of fomenting the attempted insurrection at the US Capitol.

John F Kelly

John F Kelly
John F Kelly (AP)

Similiarly, the former chief of staff who once believed he could rein in Mr Trump’s excesses now says his former boss has “no idea what America stands for and has no idea what America is all about”.

In the same ferocious denunciation of the Republican submitted to CNN last September, General Kelly added that the ex-president was “a person with nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law”. He added, with evident exasperation: “God help us.”

He has since spoken out angrily about Mr Trump’s repeated professions of admiration for dictators like Adolf Hitler, recounting an incident in which he had to tell him: “Sir, you can never say anything good about the guy. Nothing.”

Mark Milley

Mark Milley
Mark Milley (AP)

In a scorching farewell address to troops at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, last September, the former chair of the joint chiefs of staff told his audience: “We don’t take an oath to a king, or queen, or tyrant or a dictator, and we don’t take an oath to a wannabe dictator.”

There was little room for doubt as to whom he was referring.

Dan Coats

The former director of national intelligence left Mr Trump’s administration in 2019 and pointedly backed Mr Pence in the Republican primary race.

Mick Mulvaney

Mick Mulvaney
Mick Mulvaney (EPA)

Another former Trump chief of staff, Mr Mulvaney previously said that he believes Mr Trump will win the primaries but lose the general election. He’s right so far.

“I am working hard to make sure that someone else is the nominee,” Mr Mulvaney told NBC in July.

“I think he’s the Republican who is most likely to lose in a general election, of all our leading candidates. If anyone can lose to Joe Biden, it would be him.”

Prior to that, he told CBS in July 2022 that he had quit his post because Mr Trump “failed at being the president when we needed him to be that”.

Karen Pence

Karen and Mike Pence
Karen and Mike Pence (Getty)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the former second lady has joined her husband in rejecting Mr Trump after he callously placed their lives in mortal danger rather than face up to his defeat at the ballot box – some thanks for their four years of dogged loyalty.

Marc Short

Equally unsurprisingly, Mr Pence’s former chief of staff is not backing Mr Trump either and loyally supported his former boss’s short-lived presidential campaign last autumn before it ran out of road.

Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley
Nikki Haley (Getty)

The former South Carolina governor, who fought on bravely as Mr Trump’s principle rival in the primaries, at least up until 6 March, previously served as his US ambassador to the United Nations.

When she finally announced her inevitable exit from the race earlier this month, she was gracious towards Mr Trump but stopped short of endorsing him.

“I congratulate him and wish him well. I wish anyone well who would be America’s president,” she said.

“Our country is too precious to let our differences divide us.”

Anthony Scaramucci

Anthony Scaramucci
Anthony Scaramucci (CNN)

The short-lived but unforgettable ex-White House communications director, who served just 10 days in the post before being fired, has said that he will be backing Mr Biden in November’s 2020 rematch.

He actually went further than that, adding: “I will do everything I can to make sure that the president stays in office.”

Mr Scaramucci warned that a belated second Trump term would see him attempt to expand his executive power to the limit and spend his time pursuing vendettas and “going after his adversaries using the Department of Justice”.

Alyssa Farah Griffin

Alyssa Farah Griffin
Alyssa Farah Griffin (ABC)

One of The Mooch’s predecessors, Alyssa Farah Griffin has likewise made it clear that she cannot countenance a second Trump term.

She told ABC in December: “Fundamentally, a second Trump term could mean the end of American democracy as we know it, and I don’t say that lightly.”

Elaborating during an appearance on The View, Ms Griffin was no less emphatic: “Donald Trump in office could spell, frankly, the last election in our lifetime.”

She subsequently threw her support behind Ms Haley before she suspended her campaign.

Stephanie Grisham

Stephanie Grisham
Stephanie Grisham (AP)

White House press secretary from July 2019 to April 2020, Stephanie Grisham told CNN’s Newsroom earlier this year: “He used to tell me when I was press secretary, ‘Go out there and say this.’ And if it was false, he would say, ‘It doesn’t matter, Stephanie. Just say it over and over and over again, people will believe it.’

“He knows his base believes in him. He knows he can basically say anything and his base will believe what he’s saying.”

She said that while this approach might “help propel him into the general [election]” it would not succeed with more moderate Republicans and independents voters.

“They’re much much smarter than that, and so I think that that he’s gonna get in trouble in the general with these kinds of lies.”

Sarah Matthews

The former White House deputy press secretary, who resigned in response to the Capitol riot, sat down with ABC in December to discuss the risk of a second Trump presidency.

Ms Matthews stressed that her former boss has not backed down on his 2020 election fraud claims and said that she believes his rhetoric since has become “increasingly erratic.”

“We don’t need to speculate what a second Trump term would like because we already saw it play out,” she said.

While she characterised a Biden-Trump rematch as a “lose-lose scenario” for her, Ms Matthews indicated that she will be backing the current president.

“I’ve never voted for a Democrat in my life, but I think that in this next election, I would put policy aside and choose democracy,” she said.

Cassidy Hutchinson

Cassidy Hutchinson
Cassidy Hutchinson (AP)

The former aide to Mark Meadows, yet another Trump chief of staff, Cassidy Hutchinson stayed in her role until the end of his presidency. She later bravely provided bombshell testimony to the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot about the former president’s behaviour while the insurrection was underway.

The insider-turned-whistleblower told ABC News in December that this year’s vote “is a fundamental election to continue to safeguard our institutions and our constitutional republic”.

Cautioning against another Trump win, she said: “If Donald Trump is elected president again in 2024, I do fear that it will be the last election where we’re voting for democracy because if he is elected again, I don’t think we’ll be voting under the same Constitution.”

She explicitly said she would not be voting for Mr Trump this time around but declined to say who she would support.

However, she did encourage “everybody” to vote for Mr Biden “if they want our democracy to survive.”

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