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Trump transition team 'red flagged' senior US general because he was opposed to torture

Leaked documents reveal potential problems among nearly 100 administration candidates

Tom Embury-Dennis
Monday 24 June 2019 11:14 BST
Trump publicly backed the use of torture shortly after becoming president
Trump publicly backed the use of torture shortly after becoming president (EPA)

The Trump transition team passed over a senior US general who was being considered for the president’s administration because he was opposed to torture, leaked documents have revealed.

The vetting documents, obtained by Axios on HBO, highlight potential issues among nearly 100 candidates who were considered in late 2016 and early 2017 for top positions in Donald Trump’s administration.

Among them was General David Petraeus, former director of the CIA, whose vetting form, under the title “Red Flags”, highlighted his publicly stated opposition to torture.

“Petraeus Is Opposed To Torture,” it said, with a link to a 2016 Slate article by Fred Kaplan titled The Rehabilitation of David Patraeus.

Just days into his presidency, Mr Trump declared his support for torture in an interview with ABC in which he said “torture works” and he would “absolutely” bring back banned interrogation methods such as waterboarding.

He later nominated for the position of CIA director Gina Haspel, who had previously led a controversial interrogation programme, which included instances of waterboarding and other techniques some experts consider torture.

Gen Petraeus, who was reportedly considered for the positions of secretary of state and national security adviser, was also red flagged for his concerns over “inflammatory political discourse” against Muslims, and his support for a bill restricting gun access to people on an FBI watch list.

Other notable red flags against potential officials included comments before the election by Mick Mulvaney – now the White House chief-of-staff – that Mr Trump would in a “perfect world” be disqualified from becoming president, and the multiple “foreign entanglements” involving Rudy Giuliani, Mr Trump’s personal lawyer.

Axios reported the Trump transition team foisted the vetting process onto the Republican National Committee, which used a team of two-dozen researchers made up almost entirely of twenty-somethings to conduct the research.

Donald Trump says General Mattis and him disagree on torture

"We'd be sitting around and Trump would be like, 'Oh, hey, I'm bringing like Joe Shmoe up to Bedminster for Department of Interior,' and then we were like, 'F***, we need to run a vet on this guy to make sure he's not a kid-toucher’," one figure involved in the vetting process told the news outlet.

"It was just a clown show."

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