Republican presidential contender Donald Trump on Monday provided five names on his foreign policy team after months of speculation over who could be advising the businessman front-runner. Here’s what we know so far about the advisers named by Trump in a meeting with The Washington Post.
Schmitz served as inspector general at the Department of Defense during the George W. Bush administration. A Los Angeles Times investigation in 2005 revealed a number of issues with Schmitz’s term there.
Schmitz slowed or blocked investigations of senior Bush administration officials, spent taxpayer money on pet projects and accepted gifts that may have violated ethics guidelines, according to interviews with current and former senior officials in the inspector general’s office, congressional investigators and a review of internal email and other documents.
Schmitz also drew scrutiny for his unusual fascination with Baron Friedrich Von Steuben, a Revolutionary War hero who is considered the military’s first true inspector general. Schmitz even replaced the official inspector general’s seal in offices nationwide with a new one bearing the Von Steuben family motto, according to the documents and interviews.
He later became a senior official at the Prince Group, the parent company of defense contractor Blackwater. In an article in The Washington Post covering the move, Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, said, “The inspector general is a standard-bearer for ethics and integrity for the Pentagon. To see a person who has been holding that position cash in on his public service and go work for one of their contractors is tremendously disappointing.”
In a brief phone call Monday, Schmitz confirmed that he is working for the Trump campaign and said that he has been involved for the past month. He said he frequently confers with Sam Clovis, one of Trump’s top policy advisers, and that there has been a series of conference calls and briefings in recent weeks.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Schmitz attended the U.S. Naval Academy and Stanford Law School, and has worked in recent years for two small law firms bearing his name. His father is the late former Republican congressman John G. Schmitz, who was also a member of the right-wing John Birch Society. One of Schmitz’s siblings is Mary Kay Letourneau, the ex-schoolteacher who received seven years in prison for child rape after starting a relationship with a 13-year-old student.
Several people in energy policy circles in London, Washington and New York said they knew nothing of him.
Almost all his work appears to have revolved around the role of Greece, Cyprus and an Israeli natural gas discovery in the eastern Mediterranean. Yet Jonathan Stern, director of gas research at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, said when asked about Papadopoulos: “He does ring a very faint bell but he’s not written anything very significant on East Mediterranean natural gas and pipelines that I can remember.”
Indeed Papadopoulos has not left much of a paper trail. He has written an oped piece in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and three articles for Arutz Sheva, an Israeli news site. He has given an interview on another Web site.
His points in all of them boil down to this: Israel should use the natural gas it has found in the giant Leviathan field offshore in the eastern Mediterranean to build bridges to Greece and Cyprus – and avoid dealing with Turkey at all costs. Any extra gas could be sent to Egypt, which Papadopoulos said already has liquefied natural gas plants for importing gas.
He also urged Israel to settle antitrust issues regarding its oil and gas industry – by “providing the regulatory certainty” — so that relatively large companies can exploit the natural gas soon.
Shipping the natural gas to Turkey by pipeline and from there to the rest of Europe might be relatively inexpensive, Papadopoulos has written, but he said, Israel should look elsewhere. The Turkish option, he wrote in March 2014, is “bereft of the political realities in the region and does not take into account the potentially devastating impact this option can have on Israel’s strategic relations with EU member Cyprus, and by extension, all of Europe.” He writes: “Regional economic cooperation between Israel and Cyprus should be the guiding principle that anchors Israel economically to Europe.”
In October 2015, he wrote in Haaretz that “Israel’s energy exports can serve as the basis for enhancing strategic relations between Israel and Egypt. They could also serve as the foundation for political and security cooperation with Greece and Cyprus.”
Elizabeth Rosenberg, an energy expert at the Center for a New American Security, said judging from the limited writing Papadopoulos has done that “his approach won’t square well with an American audience: he lacks a strong contemporary background on domestic energy issues.” She added that “he has argued for Israeli gas moving to Europe. If that eventually comes to pass it will compete with U.S. gas to Europe. The United States and Israel are allies, but whose team is he on?”
Papadopoulos also wrote in January 2014 that, “Israel and Greece’s robust military relations have redrawn the political map of the region. The U.S. would be wise to shift its policies, and resources, towards improving relations at all levels with its stalwart allies in the region, Israel, Greece, and Cyprus, to contain the newly emergent Russian fleet, and malignant jihadist forces operating around Israel’s borders.”
Earier, Papadopoulos wrote about terrorism for The Chicago Examiner and as an intern at the Jamestown Foundation. In 2011, he wrote: “As history has explained to its readers, the ancient Greek mythological hero Hercules fought the mythical hydra, which was said to have sprouted additional heads for every head that was cut off by Hercules, and only until the heart of the beast was struck did it fall. The United States and its other NATO allies appear to be in a similar quagmire in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, for the United States and NATO as a whole, the hydra was a myth, while the Afghanistan conflict is real and present and will require a similar Herculean task.”
A biography on Carson’s website says Papadopoulos “designed the first ever project in Washington, D.C. think-tank history on U.S., Greece, Cyprus and Israel relations at a symposium entitled ‘Power Shifts in the Eastern Mediterranean: The Emerging Strategic Relationship of Israel, Greece and Cyprus.’ “
Phares is a provost at BAU International University, an institution in downtown Washington that was founded in 2013. According to his LinkedIn profile and his personal website, Phares has taught at various colleges and universities and has advised members of Congress. He has also been an analyst for Fox News. He obtained his PhD from the University of Miami.
Phares attracted attention in 2012 when, as an adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential bid, a Mother Jones story linked him to armed Christian factions blamed for abuses in Lebanon’s civil war.
During the 1980s, Phares, a Maronite Christian, trained Lebanese militants in ideological beliefs justifying the war against Lebanon’s Muslim and Druze factions, according to former colleagues. Phares, they say, advocated the hard-line view that Lebanon’s Christians should work toward creating a separate, independent Christian enclave. A photo obtained by Mother Jones shows him conducting a press conference in 1986 for the Lebanese Forces, an umbrella group of Christian militias that has been accused of committing atrocities. He was also a close adviser to Samir Geagea, a Lebanese warlord who rose from leading hit squads to running the Lebanese Forces.
He did not immediately respond to attempts by The Post to contact him.
J. Keith Kellogg Jr.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Kellogg is a former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division. After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, he served as chief operating officer for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. He has also worked at Oracle, Virginia-based CACI International, a Virginia-based intelligence and information technology consulting firm with clients around the world, and Abraxas, a risk mitigation firm.
Kellogg was interviewed by The Washington Post in 2005 soon after he joined CACI:
I started my career in the U.S. military. Traditionally in the military . . . you either start with a technical background or a more leadership-focused one. I took the leadership path. The scope of responsibility starts from leading about 30 people to where I finished with 14,000 people that I led and managed. You are responsible for budget, housing, feeding, training, equipping, making sure that the families are taken care of. So it’s a huge management responsibility.
Kellogg did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Page, a longtime energy executive, told The Washington Post that he and other advisers have met with the Trump campaign. Page is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and rose through the ranks at Merrill Lynch before founding his current firm, Global Energy Capital. He previously was a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he focused on the Caspian Sea region and the economic development in former Soviet states, Carter told The Post in a phone call. He is also a fellow at the Center for National Policy in Washington and has a PhD from the University of London.
In a September 2014 article, Page appeared to blame NATO in part for provoking Russia.
While interventionist policies of the Soviet Union might have stood as the pivotal threat in Europe when Thatcher was rising to power as she argued at the time, similar aggressive policies of pushing NATO right to Russia’s doorstep have instigated today’s predicament.
Julie Tate, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa contributed to this report.