Of 44 Trump Cabinet Members, 4 Give Ringing Endorsement

Most hedge or don't answer when asked
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2023 5:05 PM CDT
Of 44 Trump Cabinet Members, 4 Give Ringing Endorsement
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, second from the right, bows his head to lead a prayer before the start of the Cabinet meeting with from left, President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, Carson, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in the...   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

They might take the plunge later in the presidential campaign, but so far, few people who served in Donald Trump's Cabinet are publicly committing to supporting their former boss for another term. NBC News tried to contact 44 former Cabinet members to ask if they endorse Trump. Most wouldn't say. Others hedged, at least while the Republican Party is in the process of choosing a nominee. A total of four former Cabinet members said they stand behind Trump's attempt to return to the presidency.

One is Mark Meadows, who was the former president's chief of staff at the end of his presidency, including the Jan. 6 period; a spokesman said Meadows "fully" supports Trump. The others are former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, and former budget chief Russell Vought. "My friend & former boss is going to finish what he started," Vought tweeted in May. Trump went through Cabinet members, sometimes labeling them incompetent. Some left over disagreements. Turnover in his last year in office, the Brookings Institution found, swamped that of every president since Ronald Reagan.

Those people are not rushing to his side now. Rex Tillerson, who was secretary of state when he was reported to have called Trump a moron, would not comment on this race. Mick Mulvaney, another chief of staff, said, "I am working hard to make sure that someone else is the nominee." Dan Coats, former director of national intelligence, is endorsing Mike Pence. Former Attorney General Bill Barr said he opposes Trump being the nominee but hasn't decided how to vote in a Biden-Trump election. Mark Esper, a former defense secretary, told CNN that he doesn't plan to endorse anyone but that Trump isn't "fit for office." Rep. Ryan Zinke, interior secretary under Trump, wouldn't give a direct answer but said he takes the pending charges against him seriously. "I think everyone should," Zinke said.

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The Trump campaign had no comment other than suggesting three former officials to contact, one of whom did endorse Trump; the others wouldn't commit. Some officials who worked for Trump but won't commit may be "uneasy with what they saw," Julian Zelizer, a history professor at Princeton University, told NBC. Others, he said, "are waiting to see how the field unfolds before jumping behind one campaign." That's common in politics, but Miles Taylor, who worked in the former president's administration, said dodging the issue isn't doing the country any favors—especially considering Trump's strength so far as a candidate. "There's an obligation for folks to paint a clear-eyed picture of what this means," Taylor said. (More Donald Trump 2024 stories.)

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