WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Donald Trump reportedly decided against nominating Elliott Abrams as deputy secretary of state because of Abrams’ opposition last year to Trump’s nomination.
CNN cited three anonymous Republican sources on Friday as saying Abrams, known for his closeness to the Israeli establishment and the pro-Israel community, was out of the running.
Abrams, a veteran of several Republican administrations in senior State Department and National Security Council positions, reportedly was a favorite for the job because Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, formerly the CEO of Exxon, wanted someone with extensive diplomatic experience advising him.
Trump interviewed Abrams on Tuesday and was favorably impressed. According to CNN, also lobbying for Abrams was Jared Kushner, Trump’s Jewish son-in-law. Trump wants Kushner, who is serving as a top non-paid aide to the president, to spearhead Israeli-Arab peacemaking.
Abrams is close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is meeting with Trump at the White House next week.
However, it came to Trump’s attention after the interview, CNN reported, that Abrams had criticized Trump during the campaign – although he had never joined the “Never Trump” movement among disaffected Republicans and had not forsworn serving in a Trump administration.
In May Abrams wrote a column in The Weekly Standard that likened Trump to the failed Democratic nominee in 1972, George McGovern. It was titled “When You Can’t Stand Your Candidate.”
As a prominent member of the neoconservative movement, whose followers favor an interventionist foreign policy, Abrams would have been a counter to many in Trump’s circle who favor pulling back from American involvement overseas.
Trump would have made the third Republican administration for which Abrams worked. He was assistant secretary of state in the Reagan administration, as a result of which he agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges of withholding evidence related to the Iran-Contra arms sale scandal, and was deputy assistant to George W. Bush and his deputy national security adviser.