Chris Liddell – yes, he worked for Trump, and he risked his job by recognising the need for a smooth transition

Chris Liddell has  dropped  his  candidacy to become  director-general of  the  Paris-based  OECD. Without  support  from the  Ardern  government  and    vilified  in the  media as  somehow being  involved in the  encouragement  by  Donald Trump of the  Washington riots, he  plainly saw he had  little  chance of  crowning  his  stellar  career  in an international post.

Liddell scored highly in the pre-selection rounds and was impressive in his interviews, according to diplomats in Paris.  He ended in the second tier behind the top three – from Australia, Sweden and Switzerland.  However, as support was not forthcoming from the new Biden administration, he felt obliged to withdraw.

Yet  those  who   have followed  his career  to  the  top rungs of international  business  and then  into the  White House  believe  NZ  is the  loser   for not winning  a  key  position in an international forum.

As for  condemning him for  his  role  in the  White  House, his critics   display their  ignorance.  Liddell is one member of the Trump White House credited with gaining credence and respectability around Washington DC in its final days.  He kept the wheels of government turning while Trump descended into a world of denial fuelled by right wing media.

As Trump and his cronies continued to maintain he had won the election, Liddell formed a necessarily clandestine but solid working relationship with the incoming Biden team led by chief of staff and former Democrat senator Ron Klain.

Insiders say he risked his immediate job in effect to challenge Trump by recognising Joe Biden would become the next president and there needed to be a smooth transition.  It would have been easy, according to some, for him to resign and vacate the rapidly disintegrating regime.

He worked closely with VP Mike Pence and was instrumental in encouraging Pence to resist Trump’s command that the VP somehow refuse to accept the Electoral College result.

Likewise, he maintained open channels with the US Defence Department leadership to ensure the commander in chief couldn’t or wouldn’t embark on some military diversions.  He  had a behind-the-scenes part in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s call to Defence to ensure there were measures to watch Trump’s actions with the nuclear codes.

Given his corporate background in NZ, then – more importantly – with major corporations in the US, Liddell was ideologically aligned with the Republicans. Insiders recognise he avoided becoming embroiled in the machinations of the Trump family and the administration.

With  his  experience  and outstanding record in  business he could have  been a compelling voice for NZ in the international sphere.

Wellington’s reluctance to express its support  for  Liddell  has  lost NZ not  just  the  possibility  of  winning  a  voice  in a  key international  organisation  but probably of  securing his  services  on  behalf of  this country in any capacity.

3 thoughts on “Chris Liddell – yes, he worked for Trump, and he risked his job by recognising the need for a smooth transition

  1. The last remaining sane person in the White House, yet criticized by all sides! Liddell is a great servant of the public who kept the US government on an even keel as far as it was possible and did his homeland proud. We should all applaud him.


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