Changing his mind at the last moment, President Donald Trump decided not to appoint Elliott Abrams, a veteran of the Bush and Reagan administrations, to the second highest position in the State Department.
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Trump met Abrams this week and the meeting went well, but once the president discovered that Abrams criticized him during the election, he chose to change course and keep Abrams out of his administration.
Abrams said last February that he was considering not voting at all in the 2016 election, if the choice is between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. A few months later, he said that Trump is "not fit to sit" in the same chair as former presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Still, unlike many other veteran Republican national security officials, Abrams did not join the "Never Trump" movement, did not endorse Clinton and did not sign any petitions against Trump.
This seemed enough to position Abrams as the leading candidate for deputy secretary of state, the second-highest official in the State Department. But upon learning of Abrams' past statements, Trump told his senior staff that he will not make the appointment. CNN reported Friday that both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus tried to convince Trump to forgive Abrams for his statements, and focus on the contribution Abrams could make to his administration in terms of experience, but the president refused.
CNN reported that even Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, who is considered very close to the president, could not sway Trump once he decided to reject Abrams.