Never say Never Trump.
That’s the harsh lesson some GOP stalwarts say President-elect Donald Trump’s team is teaching them — supposedly, with a blacklist.
Republicans who jumped on the “Never Trump” movement now fear Trump’s advisers are maintaining a secret blacklist, keeping otherwise qualified candidates from consideration for posts and meetings.
“Before he won, the conversation was, ‘We really would love for you to change your mind and join us,’” Peter Feaver, a National Security Council special adviser who worked under President George W. Bush, told the Washington Post on Monday.
Since Trump’s victory, Feaver said, “the conversation is, ‘There likely will be a blacklist of people who signed the letters who won’t themselves be eligible for a post.”
Another former Bush official described the snubs as “hostile,” and told the Post he was not invited to a recent briefing for secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, even though some of his younger assistants were.
“It’s not just that we’re frozen out,” the anonymous official said.
“I was told they said there was an enemies list.”
The Trump team did not immediately comment on whether there is any such blacklist.
The so-called Never Trump movement took off as the businessman stormed through the GOP primary and continued even after he secured the party’s nomination.
Though never presenting a serious threat to Trump’s rise, the movement publicly won over about 200 GOP national security officials.
One Never Trump letter, published by War on the Rocks in March, drew signatures from 122 officials. The open letter said Trump’s proposed policies posed “a distinct threat to civil liberty in the United States.”
Another letter, published in the New York Times in August, drew 50 signatories, including some who signed the first note.
“None of us will vote for Donald Trump,” the second statement said.
Signatories from the two letters included Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge, the first two Department of Homeland Security secretaries, and Michael Hayden, a former ambassador to NATO, which Trump has trashed incessantly.
Trump has still shown a willingness to embrace some former rivals who came around to him.
He nominated former presidential candidate Ben Carson as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, even though the retired surgeon has no previous experience in politics or housing policy. Trump also nominated South Carolina’s Republican Gov. Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations even though she denounced him on the campaign trail.