Chris Liddell is the Trump administration’s leading transition expert. A deputy chief of staff, he previously served as executive director of the Romney transition team and helped author The Romney Readiness Project, a comprehensive presidential transition guide. In this episode of Transition Lab, Liddell joins host David Marchick to discuss the good, the bad and the ugly of the 2020 transition. Liddell talks about managing a delayed post-election transition, his experiences working with the Biden team and how he reacted to the recent attack on the Capitol.
Heather du Plessis-Allan: The PM has no choice but to rule Chris Liddell out
Heather du Plessis-Allan Drive
I’m surprised the Prime Minister hasn’t cut Chris Liddell loose yet.I see she’s refusing to say whether she will support him into the top job at the OECD. This surprises me because it seems to me a no brainer. After those riots on Capitol Hill, the fact that Chris Liddell continues to work in the Trump administration when other staffers have resigned surely disqualifies him from having New Zealand’s support. It’s not that anyone holds him responsible for what happened. Or that I think he should be blamed for what his boss did in stoking up those rioters. But Trump’s behaviour in stoking those Capitol riots was completely unacceptable and I think actually drew a red line for those working for him, and many of the staff realised that and left. And that is what I take issue with Liddell over. Not what Trump did, but what Liddell failed to do He had the option of following his colleagues out the door by signalling his objection to what happened, and yet he chose not to. We can only guess at his reasons but I don’t imagine they’re nearly as noble as he’s portraying them.I see Liddell has been courting the media. He’s hired a PR guy to make his case. He’s got in contact with writers and broadcasters himself, trying to tell his version to a media that’s interested because he’s a Kiwi like we are. And then maybe those stories will help his case internationally, but I think that’s made things worse for him. It looks terrible to be so blatantly trying to salvage a reputation while remaining in the job. It’s possible the prime minister’s office is refusing to comment on this because they think this will blow over.Maybe they’re right. Maybe this is a beltway story that only interests really nerdy politicos. But then maybe there is wider interest because we love yarns about Kiwis doing well internationally and we’re fascinated by stories of Trump and the lone Kiwi working for him. Regardless, I would’ve thought it’s a no brainer: rule him out. I can’t imagine many Kiwi voters will object to that. Surely the prime minister would have a lot of support in this country if she chose to make a statement by saying that we cannot as a country support him after the Capitol Hill riots.
Robert Patman: Jacinda Ardern won't say if she's backing Chris Liddell for OECD's top job
Heather du Plessis-Allan Drive
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won't say whether or not she supports top Donald Trump official and New Zealand-born Chris Liddell to take charge of the all-important OECD.This is despite National and Act both withdrawing their previously pledged support for the entrepreneur-turned-top-political-player's bid to become the next OECD Secretary-General.He was nominated for the job by Trump.In a statement to the Herald, a spokesperson for Ardern said the Prime Minister "won't be commenting publicly on the OECD Secretary-General selection process".This is a different position to the one she held in October last year, when one of her spokespeople said: "The Government is yet to make a decision on which candidate it will be supporting".In a mid-November press conference last year, Ardern told reporters that Cabinet hadn't yet made the final decision as to who it would be supporting for the nomination of the OECD's Secretary-General."[There are a] number of things that we want to take into account, and what I would say is that we have a wide range of considerations; citizenship is not the only one."Liddell's candidacy for the Secretary-General role came into stark focus after the US Capitol riots, which claimed the lives of five people.US lawmakers in Congress have voted to impeach Trump for his role in inciting the violence – the Senate has not yet voted.A number of key Trump officials and members of his cabinet resigned in the wake of the riots. Liddell, however, said he was staying on Trump's staff until he leaves office.Although she won't say if she's supporting Liddell's bid, Ardern did condemn the storming of the Capitol Building, saying it was "wrong"."Democracy - the right of people to exercise a vote, have their voice heard and then have that decision upheld peacefully should never be undone by a mob. Our thoughts are with everyone who is as devastated as we are by the events of today. I have no doubt democracy will prevail," she said in a Tweet at the time.National had previously supported Liddell's selection, but leader Judith Collins last week said the party had changed its mind after the US Capitol riots."The rioting that took place in the US Capitol was a disgraceful attack on democracy that has rightly tarnished those who incited and enabled the violence," Collins said."Mr Liddell's ties to the Trump Administration cannot be overlooked here, making it difficult to see how he would be suitable to uphold the OECD's strong commitment to democracy."Not long before Collins' statement, the Act Party was singing a similar tune."Following Mr Liddell's failure to denounce recent events, Act can no longer support him in his candidacy," the party's deputy leader Brook van Velden told Newshub.Liddell – who has been described as Trump's right-hand man – finishes up in the White House in a few days.After the riots, a number of senior Trump staff resigned but Liddell said he would stay on until the end as it was the right thing for the country.He told the Herald he was "horrified, like everyone else," by Capitol riots last week.text by Jason Walls, NZ Herald
Matthew Hooton: Chris Liddell a 'Trump enabler', will 'struggle to settle back in NZ'
A public relations consultant believes New Zealand-born Chris Liddell is inextricably tied to Donald Trump's US presidency.Liddell has come under fire for his job as Trump's deputy chief of staff.Matthew Hooton describes Liddell as one of Trump's enablers, and told Francesca Rudkin Liddell it would be difficult for him to continue his career here."He is the only non-family senior staff member who worked with President Trump, when all of this was inevitable for four years. Obviously there's a consequence to that, there's a price to pay to that.""He is the President's longest serving staff member... he's been in the White House since the day of the inauguration, he lasted the full four years, he was promoted by President Trump."Hooton says he and Liddell had a conversation, with the latter indicating he will back in New Zealand "at some point".
Judith Collins says politics at play in government not immediately backing Chris Liddell to head OECD
National leader Judith Collins is accusing the government of playing politics by not immediately backing Chris Liddell to head the OECD.The New Zealand businessman-turned Donald Trump advisor was nominated for the job by the United States.Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Cabinet hasn't made a final decision on who it will support.
Chris Liddell: White House Deputy Chief of Staff on why he wants OECD role and working with President Trump
The Mike Hosking Breakfast
A New Zealander who's had a key role in the Trump Administration says it's been a challenging, but rewarding four years.Chris Liddell is one of the few people in top White House positions who've stayed the distance, apart from Trump family members.The Deputy Chief of Staff has been nominated to become Secretary-General of the OECD.Liddell told Mike Hosking the last four years have been worth the ride, but hasn't been without its costs.“I have always wanted to be a player, rather than a spectator, and I want to make a difference to the world.”Preparations are going on for a transition in the White House.Donald Trump is still contesting President-elect Joe Biden's win in the courts.Liddell says there will be a transition one way or the other.He says the legal challenges have got in the way of some of the formal aspects of a transition, but there's a lot happening informally behind the scenes.LISTEN ABOVE
Heather du Plessis-Allan: Chris Liddell shouldn't be dismissed because of his boss
Heather du Plessis-Allan Drive
I want to talk about Chris Liddell.It is entirely possible that the NZ government may never actually have to choose whether it wants to support Chris Liddell in his bid for the secretary general’s job in the OECD It’s entirely possible that if Trump loses the election, Liddell’s nomination goes nowhere because his sponsor is out of the White House.It may be also be that he isn’t the best candidate for NZ to back. He might not actually want to further the things that matter to NZ, and so we might be better off backing another candidate who does push the things that we care about. Perhaps that’s the Australian candidate, their former finance minister Mathias Cormann?But either way, it is disappointing that there is such strong opposition to NZ backing him to that job from within his own home country.The disappointing thing is that he appears to be judged not for what he’s done, but for the man he works for.Some are blaming him for just being there in the White House, for simply enabling Trump’s policies. Some are blaming him for specifically supporting Trump’s controversial policy of removing migrant children from their parents. But there appears no proof of this. All we seem to know is that there was a meeting in 2018 where Trump officials voted for this policy and he was expected to be at the meeting, but that is not proof that he supported it.That is about the worst that his opponents can throw at him, that he might’ve been at a meeting.It is somewhat rich that the most strident critic of Liddell is Golriz Ghahraman, a Green MP who famously defended an alleged Rwandan war criminal.If anybody should understand that you should not always be judged over the perception of your job, it’s Ghahraman.As I said, NZ might not choose to support Liddell in this position.But if we do that, that decision should be driven by the quality of each candidate, not how we feel about their current boss.
Simon Bridges: National throws support behind Chris Liddell for OECD role
The Mike Hosking Breakfast
National says we should be backing a Kiwi to be OECD Secretary-General so he can fly our flag.Donald Trump's nominated his senior advisor Chris Liddell for the role, but that could change if the President is voted out of office next week.The Greens say the Government shouldn't support Liddell because he works for Trump.National's foreign affairs spokesman Simon Bridges told Mike Hosking as with many things, Labour doesn't seem to be making a decision on this issue.He says if there's no Trump administration after the vote, we'd lose nothing and can move to another candidate.“It's in our interests to support Chris Liddell because he's a Kiwi and we'd get great access to an international body.”Bridges says you shouldn't have to agree with everything about the Trump administration to support Chris Liddell.LISTEN ABOVE
The Huddle: Should New Zealand support Chris Liddell for OECD role?
Heather du Plessis-Allan Drive
Listen above as David Farrar and Shane Te Pou discuss the day's news with Heather du Plessis-Allan on The HuddlePresident Donald Trump's nomination of his Kiwi staffer for the OECD top job has divided New Zealand's political parties.Chris Liddell, who was born in Matamata and went to Mt Albert Grammar, has been put forward by Trump to the position of Secretary General of the OECD.Liddell currently serves as assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for policy co-ordination at the White House and to help lead America's Covid-19 response.The Greens' foreign affairs spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman said it was "literally dangerous" to back a man who helped lead the States' Covid-19 response."Trumpish anti-science, anti-co-operation, politics have no place in international governance," she tweeted.Ghahraman said New Zealand "overwhelmingly" voted in support of the Government's Covid response which was rejected in the United States and Liddell was "not our values".Liddell is also reported to have been involved in the Trump administration's decision to separate migrant children from their parents.But National's foreign affairs spokesperson Simon Bridges said New Zealand should support Liddell for the position because "he's one of us"."It's in our interest to do so."He's ultimately - and always will be - a boy from Matamata. Having him [at the OECD] means a foot in the door for New Zealand. We'll have an access we just won't get if it's someone from another country."Bridges said a lot of people would "confuse" Liddell's role in Trump's administration and be dubious of New Zealand supporting him - but said everything he'd seen showed Liddell had his own views.The Trump administration has taken a hostile approach to multilateral trade.Bridges said he "would be very surprised" if Liddell, given his Kiwi and professional background, didn't support free trade and wasn't in favour of market-based principles.Nominations for the position are still open and a spokesman for the Prime Minister said the Government would make a decision on who to support when nominations closed.Australia has nominated its Minister for Finance, Senator Mathias Cormann, and will likely ask New Zealand to support him rather than Trump's nomination.But Bridges said the situation "is just like sports"."They would be under no illusions that we'd back our own over them, just like they would every single time were the boot on the other foot."Ordinarily if there wasn't a heavy-weight businessman who happens to be a Kiwi, you might expect us to support our cousins. But we've got a better option here."The Act Party's foreign affairs spokesperson Brooke Van Velden said the fact Liddell was "getting more support from Donald Trump than the Green Party is extraordinary"."New Zealanders should be united in supporting him. It's further evidence the Greens should be nowhere near power," said Van Velden.Before being part of the Trump administration, Liddell was chief financial officer of Microsoft, the vice chairman of General Motors and chief executive of New Zealand-based Carter Holt Harvey.text by Amelia Wade, NZ Herald