Trump defends McMaster as conservatives seek his dismissal

The New York Times reports: President Trump defended Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, his embattled national security adviser, on Friday in the face of a full-bore campaign by the nationalist wing of his political coalition accusing him of undermining the president’s agenda and calling for his dismissal.

General McMaster has angered the political right by pushing out several conservatives on the national security staff and cautioning against ripping up the nuclear agreement with Iran negotiated by President Barack Obama without a strategy for what comes next. His future has been in doubt amid speculation that Mr. Trump might send him to Afghanistan.

But after two days of unrelenting attacks on General McMaster by conservative activists and news sites, complete with the Twitter hashtag #FireMcMaster, the president weighed in to quash such talk. “General McMaster and I are working very well together,” he said in a statement emailed to The New York Times. “He is a good man and very pro-Israel. I am grateful for the work he continues to do serving our country.”

A senior White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the president’s views, added that Mr. Trump has “total confidence” in his national security adviser. [Continue reading…]

Politico reports: National security adviser H.R. McMaster, who has waged a pitched battle with other senior staff for control over policy and personnel on the National Security Council, is taking advantage of the shield offered by the arrival of his old military colleague John Kelly as White House chief of staff.

Kelly told McMaster this week that he wanted him to remain as national security adviser, said two senior White House aides, and has encouraged him to make any staffing changes he deems necessary. McMaster took that as a green light this week to oust top intelligence aide Ezra Cohen-Watnick — a Michael Flynn hire who has a warm relationship with Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law — after months of trying.

Kelly’s arrival did not lead directly to Cohen-Watnick’s dismissal, officials said, but was months in the making.

McMaster, a three-star general who was enlisted by Trump to replace Flynn in February, has been an increasingly volatile presence in the West Wing, operating under a cloud of rumors that Trump, with whom he is said to have a testy relationship, was considering reassigning him to another post, possibly sending him to oversee the war in Afghanistan.

In recent weeks, according to more than half a dozen current and former officials who have had direct interaction with him, McMaster has bristled at White House aides close to Trump whom he perceives as undercutting his authority. He seethes over every national security leak and lashes out over negative news stories he thinks are spread by his enemies. And McMaster, whose temper is legendary, frequently blows his top in high-level meetings.

“He can be very intense,” a McMaster confidant who speaks with him regularly and is a major supporter, told POLITICO Thursday. “Some find that difficult.”

McMaster is fiercely at odds with Steve Bannon, the Trump strategist who was removed from the principals committee of the National Security Council in April after McMaster’s appointment. [Continue reading…]

The Atlantic reports: A top official of the National Security Council was fired last month after arguing in a memo that President Trump is under sustained attack from subversive forces both within and outside the government who are deploying Maoist tactics to defeat President Trump’s nationalist agenda.

His dismissal marks the latest victory by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in the ongoing war within Trump’s White House between those who believe that the president is under threat from dark forces plotting to undermine him, and those like McMaster who dismiss this as conspiratorial thinking.

Rich Higgins, a former Pentagon official who served in the NSC’s strategic-planning office as a director for strategic planning, was let go on July 21. Higgins’s memo describes supposed domestic and international threats to Trump’s presidency, including globalists, bankers, the “deep state,” and Islamists. The memo characterizes the Russia story as a plot to sabotage Trump’s nationalist agenda. It asserts that globalists and Islamists are seeking to destroy America. The memo also includes a set of recommendations, arguing that the problem constitutes a national-security priority. [Continue reading…]

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