Monday, December 7, 2020

Trump Alumni Thriving in Think Tank World

While a number of current and former Trump Administration officials are worried about their job prospects going forward, several former high-level Trump officials have been thriving in the think tank world.  Here is more from The American Prospect:


After leaving the White House, [H.R. McMaster] quickly rose to the top of the think-tank industry. The Hudson Institute endowed a new role for him with support from the Japanese government. He also joined the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Soon, he was invited to sit on the boards of the Atlantic Council, Foreign Policy Research Institute, International Republican Institute, Smith Richardson Foundation, and West Point.

Academia welcomed him, too. He snagged a two-book deal from HarperCollins and went to write the first book at Stanford. The university’s Hoover Institution named him the Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow.  Condoleezza Rice now directs the Hoover Institution, where COVID quacks Scott Atlas and Richard Epstein sit. (In a press release, Stanford recently rebuked Atlas, who serves on the White House coronavirus task force, but McMaster declined to comment on his colleague.)

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis has a board seat at the giant weapons-maker General Dynamics, a day job at the powerful consultancy the Cohen Group, and a fellowship from Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

Lesser-known aides have also thrived. National-security assistant Dina H. Powell McCormick secured a senior fellowship at Harvard’s Belfer Center (alongside many Biden officials-in-waiting). She returned to Goldman Sachs and was immediately promoted to a more senior role. Mira Ricardel, Bolton’s deputy, is now consulting for the Chertoff Group, and Nadia Schadlow, McMaster’s chief strategist, got a plum job at the far-right Hudson Institute think tank, where fellow Trump compatriots sit.


Just as the Hudson Institute, Hoover Institution, Heritage Foundation, and other conservative think tanks staffed up the Trump Administration, it is now time for the revolving door to bring them back in for plum think tank assignments.

The think tank Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) runs the Revolving Door Project (RDP), which scrutinizes executive branch appointees "to ensure they use their office to serve the broad public interest, rather than to entrench corporate power or seek personal advancement."  

RDP has been carefully following the incoming Biden Administration and has been critical of some potential Biden nominees from think tank land.