Last week, when asked who advises him on foreign policy, Donald Trump said, “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.” He continued, “I talk to a lot of people and at the appropriate time I’ll tell you who the people are.” The time has come.
In an interview with the Washington Post’s editorial board, Trump revealed the names of the people whose voices he listens to that do not come from inside his own brain. “Walid Phares, who you probably know. PhD, adviser to the House of Representatives. He’s a counterterrorism expert,” he said.
“Carter Page, PhD. George Papadopoulos. He’s an oil and energy consultant. Excellent guy. The honorable Joe Schmitz, [was] inspector general at the Department of Defense. General Keith Kellogg. And I have quite a few more. But that’s a group of some of the people that we are dealing with. We have many other people in different aspects of what we do. But that’s a pretty representative group.”
Representative of what, exactly? Well. Walid Phares, the “counterterrorism expert” who also served as an advisor to Mitt Romney, has ties to a right-wing Lebanese militia accused of committing war crimes during that country’s bloody 15-year civil war. From Mother Jones, in 2011:
During the 1980s, Phares, a Maronite Christian, trained Lebanese militants in ideological beliefs justifying the war against Lebanon’s Muslim and Druze factions, according to former colleagues. Phares, they say, advocated the hard-line view that Lebanon’s Christians should work toward creating a separate, independent Christian enclave. A photo obtained by Mother Jones shows him conducting a press conference in 1986 for the Lebanese Forces, an umbrella group of Christian militias that has been accused of committing atrocities. He was also a close adviser to Samir Geagea, a Lebanese warlord who rose from leading hit squads to running the Lebanese Forces.
Carter Page (“Carter Page, PhD.”) runs a hedge fund in New York and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. “Until 2007, he was Deputy Branch Manager of Merrill Lynch’s representative office in Moscow which he opened in 2004.” He’s a banker.
General Kellogg most recently was Senior Vice President of Homeland Security Solutions for Oracle Corporation, having joined the company after a decorated 32-year career in the U.S. Army. He also had taken leave of absence from Oracle to serve the U.S. government as Chief Operating Officer of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad, Iraq from November 2003 through March 2004.
As a member of the CPA, General Kellogg served on the staff of Administrator L. Paul Bremer. He played a key role in the effort to rebuild Iraq and bridge the link between security and critical infrastructure. As a result of his service, the Secretary of Defense awarded Kellogg the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the highest defense award that civilians may receive.
Approximately $8.8 billion in Iraqi government funds allocated to the CPA disappeared during the eight-month reign of Paul Bremer, under whom Kellogg served.
Schmitz slowed or blocked investigations of senior Bush administration officials, spent taxpayer money on pet projects and accepted gifts that may have violated ethics guidelines, according to interviews with current and former senior officials in the inspector general’s office, congressional investigators and a review of internal e-mail and other documents.
Schmitz also drew scrutiny for his unusual fascination with Baron Friedrich Von Steuben, a Revolutionary War hero who is considered the military’s first true inspector general. Schmitz even replaced the official inspector general’s seal in offices nationwide with a new one bearing the Von Steuben family motto, according to the documents and interviews.
Schmitz left his government post to take a position at the parent company of Blackwater USA, the defense contractor.
And last but not least, the “oil and energy consultant” George Papadopoulos comes to the Trump campaign from Ben Carson. On his LinkedIn page, he cites as one of his “Honors and Awards” his participation in the 2012 Geneva International Model United Nations.