Trump picks top Clinton aide for key ambassador slot. Why?

President Trump has nominated Joseph McManus to be the U.S. ambassador to Colombia. McManus is an experienced diplomat, having spent 30 years in the foreign service. I don’t doubt that he’s a capable man.

However, critics point out that McManus was one of Hillary Clinton’s top aides at the State Department and was deeply involved in the State Department’s initial response to the Benghazi attack. In addition, he became entangled in the scandal over Clinton’s use of a private email server.

At the time of the Benghazi attacks, McManus was Hillary’s executive assistant. Documents obtained by Judicial Watch show that he, along with Cheryl Mills, Hillary’s chief of staff, was promptly advised that this was a terrorist attack and that an al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group had claimed credit for it. Secretary Clinton nonetheless issued an official statement claiming the assault may have been in “response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.” Gregory Hicks, our number two man in Libya who was in communication with Clinton’s team, insists that the video was a non-event in Libya.

Documents also show that McManus forwarded news of Ambassador Stevens’ death to officials in the State Department Legislative Affairs office with instructions not to “forward to anyone at this point.” It seems clear, in sum, that McManus was heavily involved in Team Clinton’s efforts to conceal the facts from the American people.

As for the email server scandal, it was McManus who had to testify before a federal judge that Hillary was not issued a blackberry or similar device by the Department but that Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills were. His testimony suggested that the State Department acquiesced to Clinton’s communications practices by failing to even issue her the standard devices. The fact that McManus was the witness suggested that he was involved in the acquiescence.

Even if McManus had played no role in Benghazi and the email scandal, it’s not clear why one of Hillary Clinton’s top aides should be our ambassador to Colombia. Her foreign policy is certainly not President Trump’s foreign policy. Nor does McManus’s bio indicate a strong background in Latin American affairs.

Thus, I agree with Sen. Mike Lee who says:

At a time when we should be cleaning up the State Department and realigning our foreign-policy priorities to reflect those of the current administration, an Obama-era diplomat is not the right person to head our embassy in Colombia, a critical U.S. ally in the region.

When one factors in McManus’ involvement in Benghazi and the email scandal, the case against him becomes even stronger, it seems to me.

And there is one more element to that case. Susan Crabtree of the Washington Free Beacon reports that McManus recently rebuffed Sen. Lee, Sen. Ted Cruz, and four other conservative GOP senators who asked for an investigation into whether the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development were using taxpayer dollars to support liberal causes funded by George Soros. The senators cited several Soros-funded projects, including one in Colombia in which USAID funds support a Soros-owned media portal that has criticized Trump, capitalism, and “patriarchal society.”

According to Crabtree, MacManus’ response to the senators defended USAID’s work without addressing the their concerns. If this reporting is accurate — if McManus blew off the issue of USAID funds being used to advance Soros’s left-wing agenda — then his nomination is not just misguided, but scandalous.

How did it come about? Apparently, McManus was the choice of Thomas Shannon, another career State Department man who was the acting Secretary of State until Rex Tillerson took over. A source told the Free Beacon that the McManus nomination “shows the State Department bureaucrats are running roughshod over the White House political team who frankly ought to be embarrassed for allowing the nomination to be made.”

This seems like a fair assessment. Perhaps it’s not too late to derail this nomination.

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