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On Foreign Policy, Trump's Campaign Hasn't Released Names Of Advisers


If there was any doubt before, Donald Trump settled it on Tuesday. He is the clear front-runner for the Republican nomination. Trump notched up wins in Florida, North Carolina and Illinois. And while the results are still too close to call in Missouri, he holds a very narrow lead there, too. This, despite the fact that many Americans might be hard-pressed to explain his policies.


Take foreign policy. The Trump campaign has yet to release the name of a single foreign policy adviser. Asked on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," who he talked with about foreign policy, Donald Trump had this to say yesterday.


DONALD TRUMP: I'm speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain, and I've said a lot of things.

KELLY: Donald Trump has thrown out the occasional name, though. Here he is with Mika Brzezinski on "Morning Joe" a couple of weeks ago.


MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Who do you respect on foreign policy? Who do you turn to? Who do you think is a great name?

TRUMP: Well, I respect Richard Haass, who's on your show a lot. And I like him a lot.

KELLY: Well, Richard Haass is on the line with us now. He is president of the Council on Foreign Relations. Good morning.

RICHARD HAASS: Good morning.

KELLY: I have to start by asking you, did you know you were on the Trump foreign policy team?

HAASS: Well, I'm not on the Trump foreign policy team. What I do, or at least offer to do, is brief all the candidates - Democratic and Republican alike. It's consistent with our mission as being a nonpartisan resource here at the Council on Foreign Relations.

And this time around, I've probably briefed a half-dozen or so of the candidates, from Hillary Clinton to Jeb Bush to John Kasich to Chris Christie and others. And one of the people I briefed - I think it was about six months ago - was Donald Trump.

KELLY: Right, back in August. Where did you two meet?

HAASS: We met in his office on Fifth Avenue.

KELLY: And what areas was he interested in?

HAASS: I'm not real comfortable going into the details of briefings. There's a part of the deal with all of the people is that it's private and off the record. But what I try to do in each one of these is give them my sense of some of the basic trends in the world, what's going on and obviously what I think will be the hotspots that any future president or commander in chief will have to cope with.

And they've all got questions. And in my experience - and I've been doing this off and on now for something like 30 years - you never have a chance to get through the entire script. You may not be as bad as somebody arguing a case before the Supreme Court. But, you know, candidates have ideas.

They have questions. They know the issues that matter most to them. So you get interrupted constantly, which is the purpose of it, with their questions.

KELLY: He clearly walked away from this meeting with deep respect for you. Was it mutual?

HAASS: Well, again, I don't think it's - you know, that's for American voters to describe. I've spent an hour with him there. I've seen him a few times on and off golf courses, so I simply don't know him well enough to give you that kind of a judgment.

KELLY: Fair enough. I'm sure you have been tracking, though, the statements that he has made since that meeting this past summer. And I wonder if any of the comments that he has made, specifically on foreign policy, raise concern for you.

I mean, I'm thinking of the wall he has said he wants to build between the U.S. and Mexico or of the ban that he's called for on Muslims entering the United States.

HAASS: Well, again, we obviously have areas of, you know, some disagreement, to say the least, on policy. It's pretty well-known, for example, that I'm - I've long been committed to free trade. And even though while it does cost, you know, specific jobs for individual workers, on balance I think it's been a net-plus for the United States. It's created a lot of jobs. It's given consumers a lot more choice. It's driven down inflation. And strategically it has been a major force for peace in the world 'cause it creates economic interdependence.

While I would argue we have to do something, particularly in the area of education and training for those workers who have lost jobs, on balance I think that free trade has been in the national interest of the United States. And I think, for example, if we were not to go ahead with the TPP, or Trans-Pacific Partnership deal that has recently been signed, it would raise real questions around the world, again, as to American reliability and predictability.

And I think of all countries, China would be the principle beneficiary if the United States were not to be fully engaged with our Asian economic partners.

KELLY: Richard Haass, we just have a few seconds left, but I wonder, do you anticipate that Mr. Trump, if elected, would bring in a substantial team of foreign policy advisers and listen to them?

HAASS: Well, he's going to have no choice but to bring in a large team. Each president appoints something like 4,000 or so people. Hundreds are in the national security area.


HAASS: And when you look at the inbox that's going to await the new president, he's going to have to bring in a large, capable team.

KELLY: Thank you so much for joining us.

HAASS: Thank you.

KELLY: That's Richard Haass. He's president of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of many books on foreign policy, including the forthcoming "A World In Disarray." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.