At this time a week ago, polls were still open in many states and it was unclear who would win the election. So it seems premature for talking heads breathlessly to be discussing “chaos” in Donald Trump’s transition team and claiming that the president-elect is off to a start unprecedented in its rockiness.
The cause (or pretext) for this chatter is the removal of Chris Christie from the transition team. Vice president elect Mike Pense has replaced him. If anything, this move probably will reduce the potential for chaos. And keep in mind that we’re more than two months away from a Trump administration.
Former congressman Mike Rogers has also left the transition team. Rogers served as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He was considered by some to be the leading candidate for CIA Director.
In my opinion, Rogers would have been an excellent choice for Director. Thus, his departure from the transition (or purge, as it’s being called) strikes me as unfortunate.
What’s behind the “purge” of Rogers? The Washington Post says it is due to the former congressman’s ties to Chris Christie. The Post doesn’t say what those ties were, other than the fact that (presumably) Christie selected him for the transition team.
Rogers may have been forced out due to unhappiness with the report his Committee issued on Benghazi. Rogers clashed on this subject with Rep. Devin Nunes, who later succeeded him as chairman of the Committee, on the report.
Nunes was added to the transition team last week. Perhaps the team wasn’t big enough for both of them.
Unhappiness with Rogers’ report seemed to relate in significant part to his rejection of claims that security personnel in Benghazi were told to “stand down” by the CIA chief of base. According to the The Weekly Standard:
Many of the CIA officers who survived the Benghazi attack have loudly opposed the Rogers report since it was released, particularly objecting to the report’s claim that no CIA officer on the ground in Benghazi was told to “stand down” from a rescue attempt. Just last week one of those officers, Kris Paronto, tweeted some harsh criticism of Rogers.
I defended the Rogers report on this matter here. I argued that the report’s finding on “stand down” was based on the evidence before it. Specifically, it seems that Paronto and others, whatever they have said elsewhere, did not testify under oath to the Committee that they were told to stand down.
The report concluded that “the evidence from eyewitness testimony, ISR video footage, closed-circuit television recordings, and other sources provides no support for the allegation that there was any stand-down order.” I haven’t seen anything that persuasively contradicts this statement.
Rogers’ “sin,” therefore, appears to be his decision to let the evidence presented to him stand in the way of a good story. To me, that’s an admirable quality in a CIA director.
Let’s hope it won’t be a disqualifying in the Trump administration.