The White House press pool was called into the Oval Office just before noon eastern time for what they expected to be a photo op between Trump and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov since the two men were scheduled to huddle earlier today.But it wasn’t Lavrov they found sitting with the president! It was Henry Kissinger, best known for his role as Secretary of State to President Richard Nixon!
The last sentence in the quote above has an exclamation point, yet not much of substance was said about Kissinger in the article. With that level of surprise, I would have expected questions about Kissinger’s role in the meeting.
In the video clip Kissinger sits passively while President Trump does the talking:
“Everybody knows Dr. Kissinger, and we’re right now talking about Russia and various other matters. We’re talking about Syria, and I think that we’re going to do very well with respect to Syria. I think things are happening that are really, really, really positive. We’re going to stop the killing and the death. We had a very, very good meeting with Mr. Lavrov, and it was uh—I thought it was very, very good. What we want to do is we want to see the killing, the horrible killing in Syria, stop as soon as possible and everybody’s working toward that end. But it’s an honor to have Henry Kissinger with us. He’s been a friend of mine for a long time, and thank you very much for being here, appreciate it.”
Trump says “Everybody knows Dr. Kissinger”. Do they? I would love to take a national poll to see how many Americans know who Kissinger is.
Judging from conservatives who continue to tweet about Trump “draining the swamp”, they don’t know Kissinger at all. If journalists know him for more than his role as Nixon’s Secretary of State, they aren’t letting on.
Kissinger, at the very least, is at the top of the Establishment heap that Trump is supposed to be fighting against. That should be big news, but it gets glossed over by talk of the Russians and the firing of James Comey.
In his CNN article, Chris Cillizza’s light-heartedly speculates that Kissinger was brought in as a “troll move” by Trump:
It was apparently lost on Trump that the last 16 hours had been dominated by comparisons between Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” — where he jettisoned the independent counsel investigating Watergate — and Trump’s decision to part ways with Comey. Either that or Trump was pulling the greatest troll move ever by having Kissinger there when he took his first questions from reporters about the Comey firing.
Anyone who knows Kissinger’s reputation will know that he isn’t taking orders from Trump. Kissinger might be there as a prop, but it would be as part of his own strategy, not Trump’s. My guess is that he was there to put his seal on the proceedings—to show that Trump is not flying solo—the Establishment is still in control.
Trump, who campaigned as an outsider, appears to be taking insider advice, and possibly orders, from the same person who was directing the Obama administration’s foreign policy—the same person who would have been working with Hillary Clinton if she had managed to win. When presidents from both parties kiss the ring of the same guy, you know that guy is pulling the strings.
Consider what Obama’s national security advisor, James L. Jones, said of Kissinger at the 45th Munich Conference on Security Policy, on February 8, 2009:
“Thank you for that wonderful tribute to Henry Kissinger yesterday. Congratulations. As the most recent National Security Advisor of the United States, I take my daily orders from Dr. Kissinger, filtered down through General Brent Scowcroft and Sandy Berger, who is also here. We have a chain of command in the National Security Council that exists today.
According to that quote, Dr. Kissinger was part of the National Security Council’s current chain of command, “giving orders” to the National Security Advisor under Obama. Why does CNN’s Chris Cillizza only mention Kissinger’s work of over 40 years ago under Nixon? Why not the recent work? Why not ask what he is doing as part of the meeting with the Russians?
Hillary Clinton is also a good friend of Kissinger. According to a Mother Jones article from February 12, 2016, the Clintons and the Kissingers regularly spend holidays together at a beachfront villa.
This Clinton lovefest with Kissinger is not new. And it is not simply a product of professional courtesy or solidarity among former secretaries of state, who, after all, are part of a small club. There is also a strong social connection between the Clintons and the Kissingers. They pal around together. On June 3, 2013, Hillary Clinton presented an award to de la Renta, a good friend who for years had provided her dresses and fashion advice, and then the two of them hopped over to a 90th birthday party for Kissinger. In fact, the schedule of the award ceremony had been shifted to allow Clinton and de la Renta to make it to the Kissinger bash. (Secretary of State John Kerry also attended the party.) The Kissingers and the de la Rentas were longtime buddies. Kissinger wrote one of his recent books while staying at de la Rentas’ mansion in the Dominican Republic and dedicated the book to the fashion designer and his wife.
Even as he campaigned as an anti-establishment outsider, Trump was working closely with Kissinger, the ultimate establishment insider. A Reuters article from May 17, 2016 told of an upcoming meeting with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger:
“The meeting in New York comes after weeks of telephone conversations between Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, and Kissinger, who was a top adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, the Post said.”
Six months later they met again to discuss “events and issues around the world.”
“President-elect Trump and Dr. Kissinger have known each other for years and had a great meeting. They discussed China, Russia, Iran, the EU and other events and issues around the world,” the statement reads.
“I have tremendous respect for Dr. Kissinger and appreciate him sharing his thoughts with me,” Trump said, according to the statement.Kissinger and Trump met during the Republican presidential primaries, a visit Trump hoped would build up his foreign policy credentials.
Trump may not be Kissinger’s first choice, but he seems optimistic about using him. A Washington Examiner article from November 20, 2016 states:
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who has helped direct American foreign policy for several decades, said he thinks President-elect Trump is the “most unique” he has ever seen in terms of his lack of “baggage” holding him down.
“He has absolutely no baggage,” Kissinger told CNN on Sunday. “He has no obligation to any particular group because he has become president on the basis of his own strategy.”
Further along in the article, and this should really concern pro-Trump conservatives:
Kissinger also reportedly said that Americans should not insist on holding Trump to the positions he held during his presidential campaign.
The article quotes this video, where Kissinger also talks about Trump transitioning “from campaigner to national strategist“.
He sees no problem with Trump changing his positions once in office, and states that, “One should not insist on nailing [Trump] into position that he had taken in the campaign.”
Now that Trump is president, he is clearly backing off from his strong positions during the campaign. A vote for Trump looks more and more like a vote for Hillary every day.
The presence of Henry Kissinger at Trump’s side should be a cause for great concern among Democrats and Republicans alike, but instead Kissinger is treated as a novelty that the public will soon forget.
Further reading: KISSINGER: The Secret Side of the Secretary of State (1976)