The Trump VP Vetting Process

There is currently a high level of excitement and speculation surrounding potential running mates for the presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee Donald J. Trump. While no one outside the inner circle knows for sure what is going to happen, those who attended the RNLA National Policy Conference in 2009 received an inside look at the vetting process in an address by former Reagan White House Counsel Arthur B. Culvahouse, Jr., who is also in charge of the Trump VP vetting process.  

The contenders under the most serious consideration, such as Gingrich and Christie, have been asked by attorney Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr. to answer more than 100 questions and to provide reams of personal and professional files that include tax records and any articles or books they have published.

Culvahouse, a former White House counsel who is managing the vetting for Trump, was the lawyer who vetted then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for the GOP vice-presidential nomination during the 2008 campaign.

Culvahouse shared details insights about the VP vetting process for 2008 Republican Nominee, John McCain, at the RNLA National Policy Conference. Culvahouse has been hard at work attempting to narrow the list for Trump. The process is not one that is an exact science and there are no formal rules governing the vetting process. It is likely that he is following a similar process for Trump but with a few more questions. (Below are direct quotes):

The Vetter’s role is to vet and we are given a list and my deal with John [McCain] is there were three rules:

1. He was the decider

2. There was no one between he and me [. . .]

3. [. . . ]He could not pick anyone I had not vetted

He agreed to that and we had 26 people on the long list. It was a blind basis. They did not know that they were on the list. I had a staff of about 30 lawyers and we wrote 40-50 page reports.

How do you make the qualifications assessments? Qualifications in this town means someone with a great resume. We all know people with a long list of qualifications who have [been] Senators or Committee Chairmen forever, who at least in our minds may not be qualified to be President or Vice President of the United States. That’s a very important and different responsibilities. [ . . . ]

Ethical issues, I learned as White House Counsel and doing some lookbacks on some of our nominees that have gotten into trouble. We look for corner cutting.  I believe in redemption, everyone is entitled to a mistake or two. But someone who has an aggregation of complaints, someone who doesn’t [pay] their parking tickets on repeated occasion, tax issues [. . . ], that sort of thing we found disqualifying.

Short list. There was a handful. We interviewed them. They answered seventy-four questions. There was no debate about what the meaning of “is” is, I drafted that question. Have you ever been unfaithful? Has anyone ever asserted that you have been unfaithful? Is there anyone who could truthfully assert that you have been unfaithful? Then you define unfaithful. I think we got great cooperation.

I asked three lead in questions [. . .]

1. Why do you want to be VP

2. Are you prepared to use nuclear weapons in defense of the American Homeland

3. Osama Bin Laden is identified in the fata. The CIA’s ready to take the shot but if they take the shot there will be multiple civilian casualties. Do you take the shot?

Much like with Trump's campaign counsel Don McGahn handling the legal issues, everyone can trust in an experienced expert such as A.B. Culvahouse handling the VP vetting.