During the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearing on Tuesday morning, the Democratic Counsel, Daniel Goldman, suggests in a question to Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s Director for European Affairs, that bureaucrats create foreign policy and the President is obligated to follow their talking points.
Goldman: “Is there a process to determine official U.S. policy?”
Vindman: “Yes, my job is to coordinate U.S. policies throughout the preceding year that I been on staff. I had undertaken an effort to make sure that we had a coherent and just policy.”
Goldman: “And as you listened to the call, did you observe whether President Trump was following the talking points based on the official U.S. policy?”
Vindman: “Counsel, the President could choose to use the talking points or not, he’s the President, but they were not consistent with what I provided, yes.”
Obviously, the President sets the direction and the U.S. State Department, National Security Council, etc. work out the details. The President also needs people to do research and provide sound counsel. The President would be wise to listen to a variety of counsel.
That doesn’t mean those people determine official U.S. policy. That is what the President does. To Vindman’s credit, he points out that the President is not bound to use talking points provided to him.
Because he isn’t. No, president is. It may not be wise to stray from provided talking points, but the bureaucrats follow the President, not the other way around.