Top allies of President Donald Trump are warning him against nominating Uttam Dhillon — an apparent ally of disgraced former FBI Director James Comey — to be the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The warning from Trump’s allies come after Trump briefly recognized Dhillon — the current Acting Administrator of the DEA — at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, on Monday.
“Soon, Uttam will not be ‘Acting,’ by the way,” Trump said. “He’s done a great job. So he doesn’t know this yet, but soon you will not be ‘Acting.’ Congratulations.”
Shortly after Trump made his comments, numerous top allies of the president expressed concern over Dhillon’s apparent nomination to a permanent role at the DEA’s top spot.
“I never would have imagined in a million years that the president would entrust James Comey’s right-hand man to execute on his agenda,” a former senior White House official told The Daily Wire. “Uttam Dhillon despises Donald Trump and spent his entire time in the White House complaining to everyone who’d listen that he’s unfit to be president and must be restrained.”
“President Trump has said over and over again that he’s tired of Never Trumpers being placed in top jobs,” the former top official continued. “Well, at this point Dhillon is basically the face of the new resistance inside the Administration.”
Trump expressed this desire as recently as last week, tweeting: “It would be really great if the people within the Trump Administration, all well-meaning and good (I hope!), could stop hiring Never Trumpers, who are worse than the Do Nothing Democrats. Nothing good will ever come from them!”
It would be really great if the people within the Trump Administration, all well-meaning and good (I hope!), could stop hiring Never Trumpers, who are worse than the Do Nothing Democrats. Nothing good will ever come from them!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2019
One of the top complaints that the sources mentioned to The Daily Wire was the fact that Dhillon allegedly lied to Trump in what they said was an attempt to protect Comey from being fired. The New York Times reported in January 2018:
Mr. Trump began to discuss openly with White House officials his desire to fire Mr. Comey. This unnerved some inside the White House counsel’s office, and even led one of Mr. McGahn’s deputies to mislead the president about his authority to fire the F.B.I. director.
The lawyer, Uttam Dhillon, was convinced that if Mr. Comey was fired, the Trump presidency could be imperiled, because it would force the Justice Department to open an investigation into whether Mr. Trump was trying to derail the Russia investigation.
Longstanding analysis of presidential power says that the president, as the head of the executive branch, does not need grounds to fire the F.B.I. director. Mr. Dhillon, a veteran Justice Department lawyer before joining the Trump White House, assigned a junior lawyer to examine this issue. That lawyer determined that the F.B.I. director was no different than any other employee in the executive branch, and that there was nothing prohibiting the president from firing him.
But Mr. Dhillon, who had earlier told Mr. Trump that he needed cause to fire Mr. Comey, never corrected the record, withholding the conclusions of his research. [Emphasis added]
According to a 2018 report from BuzzFeed News, Dhillon used to work directly for Comey at the Department of Justice.
“Dhillon was one of a handful of associate deputy attorneys general who worked under Comey, according to a 2005 directory published by the Government Printing Office,” BuzzFeed News reported. “While at the Justice Department, Dhillon worked on law enforcement and related matters.”
“No one has been a stronger supporter of the president than our great law enforcement leaders, yet the National Sheriffs’ Association says Dhillon is literally unqualified for the job of leading DEA,” the former top official continued. “He’s already a well-known Comey lackey, and on top of that he’s unqualified. It defies comprehension why any Republican would support this nomination.”
The official was referencing remarks made by Jonathan Thompson, chief executive of the National Sheriffs’ Association, and by Bob Bushman, the president of the National Narcotics Officers’ Associations Coalition.
“It baffles me that he could sway the vetting process and help decide who wasn’t qualified, while he floated to the top, because we don’t see a single qualification that makes him eligible to lead the agency,” Thompson told The Wall Street Journal.
Bushman told The Journal, “There were some very good people run up the flagpole, and they were turned down for someone who doesn’t have the breadth of knowledge and broad experience to tackle this problem.”
A top source who is close to GOP House leadership told The Daily Wire: “I hope the president is aware that Dhillon’s name came up in a number of the investigations that were undertaken when our guys controlled the House. This is a disaster in the making.”
Another source who is close to the White House told The Daily Wire: “I don’t know who is advising the president on these nominations but it’s clear as day that they’re not looking out for the administration. Dhillon is a Comey lackey who has been insulting the president and his family behind their backs for years. There’s no doubt that he’s behind some of the leaks that have been plaguing the White House. There’s no shortage of competent and capable Trump supporters that the White House could have picked from. Instead they’re going with someone that Comey would have endorsed. It’s disgraceful.”
Two additional former White House officials also warned Trump against nominating Dhillon to the position, warning that he was the “worst choice.”
“Uttam is a never Trump imposter,” a former White House official told The Daily Wire. “His views are antithetical to the Trump agenda and has a reputation for routinely trashing the president behind his back.”
Another former White House official told The Daily Wire: “Dhillon is ultimately a Comey disciple that will continue to be the eyes and ears for the Resistance. There could not be a worst choice for DEA administrator and his appointment will have a chilling effect on those who seek to promote President Trump’s agenda.”