Updated on February 8, 2017, at 12:15 p.m.
Elliott Abrams is reportedly under consideration to be deputy secretary of state—setting up a strange third act for the longtime Republican foreign-policy figure, and a strange No. 2 for the Trump State Department. Politico’s Michael Crowley reports that Abrams is meeting with President Trump on Tuesday, and that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson supports him for the job. Josh Rogin previously reported that Abrams was in the running for the job. Abrams declined to comment for this article.
If selected and confirmed by the Senate, Abrams would occupy a peculiar role: the most prominent neoconservative, and most experienced foreign-policy professional, in an administration that has promised to repudiate nearly everything that neoconservatism stood for, and which has disdained foreign-policy professionals as bumbling fools.
Joining the administration would also require both Abrams and Trump to get over some longstanding differences. Trump is notoriously fond of revenge, and Crowley writes that presidential adviser Steve Bannon is vetting Abrams to see if the White House can get past his past criticisms of the now-president. Abrams advised both the campaigns of both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. In March, he told Politico he wasn’t sure whether he could vote for either Trump or Hillary Clinton, and in May he wrote a piece for The Weekly Standard likening the election to 1972’s Democratic nomination of George McGovern: “The party has nominated someone who cannot win and should not be president of the United States. We anticipate a landslide defeat, and then a struggle to take the party back from his team and his supporters and win the following presidential election. Meanwhile, we need to figure out how to conduct ourselves.”