Matt Lauer Fears Trump Doesn’t Have ‘Gravitas’ to be President

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Interviewing former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Thursday’s NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer tried to get the former Bush cabinet official to say that Donald Trump did not have the seriousness to be president: “You were here during the campaign and I asked you about Trump....And when I asked you did he have the gravitas to be commander-in-chief, you dodged it a little bit....you’ve now had 125 days to watch him. Do you feel he has the gravitas to be commander-in-chief?”

Rumsfeld pushed back: “Well, I didn’t dodge it. And I am old-fashioned, if I don’t know somebody, I'm inclined not to pretend I do.” He then praised the President for his cabinet selections, citing it as evidence of his leadership abilities: “In this case, what is a chief executive’s most important task? It’s to select good people. And I look at his Supreme Court nominee, his vice president, his secretary of state, his secretary of defense. I think his national security team is really first rate.”

Rumsfeld added: “I’ve been involved with some cabinets over the years, and I would rank this one pretty high....I’d give him pretty good marks on picking people, which I think is what a senior executive has to do.”

As Lauer recalled, back on the January 25, 2016 Today, Rumsfeld appeared on the morning show and was similarly pressed on Trump’s fitness for office by the anchor:

In your role as Secretary of Defense, you dealt with President George W. Bush in his role as commander-in-chief. You know what that side of the job entails. Given what challenges face our military forces all around the globe today, would you be comfortable with Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders as commander-in-chief?

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Apparently Lauer forgot that he also questioned the ability of socialist Senator Bernie Sanders to be president as well.

At the time, Rumsfeld expressed his faith in the decision of the American people. However, Lauer wasn’t satisfied: “With all due respect, you dodged it. Can you see Donald Trump, you personally, as commander-in-chief?” Rumsfeld was unconcerned: “Can I see the person that gets elected by the American people serve as President of the United States? Why my goodness, we’ve been doing that for so many years, you bet.”

At some point Lauer may actually have to accept that Trump is, in fact, the President of the United States.

Here is a transcript of the May 25 exchange:

7:09 AM ET

(...)

MATT LAUER: You were here during the campaign and I asked you about Trump and you said he touched a nerve. And when I asked you did he have the gravitas to be commander-in-chief, you dodged it a little bit. You’ve now had –

DONALD RUMSFELD: I don't know him.

LAUER: Okay, but you’ve now had 125 days to watch him. Do you feel he has the gravitas to be commander-in-chief?

RUMSFELD: Well, I didn’t dodge it. And I am old-fashioned, if I don’t know somebody, I'm inclined not to pretend I do.

In this case, what is a chief executive’s most important task? It’s to select good people. And I look at his Supreme Court nominee, his vice president, his secretary of state, his secretary of defense. I think his national security team is really first rate. As you say, I’ve been involved with some cabinets over the years, and I would rank this one pretty high.

The other thing a chief executive has to do is when you make a mistake on personnel, fix it. They don’t get better with time, and he did. The national security adviser was changed.

LAUER: Fast enough, in your view?

RUMSFELD: Oh, I don't know. I'm not there. But I’d give him pretty good marks on picking people, which I think is what a senior executive has to do.

(...)