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McMaster, On ‘Warpath,’ Purges Key Trump Allies From White House NSC


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An ongoing staffing purge being conducted by White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has thrown the West Wing into chaos, according to more than half a dozen Trump administration insiders who told the Washington Free Beacon that McMaster has been targeting long-time Trump loyalists who were clashing with career government staffers and holdovers from the Obama administration.
The purge is part of a larger drama unfolding inside the administration, between veteran Trump staffers committed to the president's campaign vision of "draining the swamp"‘ in Washington and entrenched bureaucracies seeking to maintain control over policy decision-making, according to these sources, who said that many of these actions against his supporters are being conducted without Trump's knowledge.
The Trump staffers fired by McMaster had repeatedly clashed with career government staffers and holdovers from the Obama administration on issues as diverse as military strategies for Syria and Afghanistan, whether to tear up Obama's landmark Iran deal, the controversial détente with Cuba, the U.S. role in confronting Islamic radicalism, and the Paris Climate Accord, according to these sources.:snip:

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Inside the McMaster-Bannon War

Under the new chief of staff, H.R. McMaster and Steve Bannon have gone to the mattresses.

Michael Warren

6:50 PM, Aug 02, 2017

 

General John Kelly may be trying to institute military-style discipline in the West Wing, but that hasn’t put a stop to the civil war happening over President Donald Trump’s National Security Council. If anything, the dawning of the Kelly era may have accelerated that war.

The national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, has removed three NSC aides loyal to Trump aide Steve Bannon in the last three weeks. Bannon allies inside and outside the administration have fired back, starting rumors that McMaster is on his way out the door and documenting the Army general’s deviations from President Trump.

 

The latest move against Bannonites came Wednesday when McMaster fired the NSC’s senior director for intelligence, Ezra Cohen-Watnick. McMaster’s previous attempt to remove Cohen-Watnick from the staff had been blocked by Bannon and Trump himself. A White House statement confirmed Cohen-Watnick’s removal, saying McMaster is “confident that Ezra will make many further significant contributions to national security in another position in the administration.” The news was first reported by Jordan Schachtel, a former editor at Breitbart, which Bannon ran before joining the Trump campaign last year.

This was not the first change. Last week, McMaster fired Derek Harvey, the NSC’s top Middle East adviser. Harvey was perceived as too close to Bannon by some White House aides, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis had disagreed with Harvey at times.

 

(Snip)

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McMaster purges pro-Israel, anti-Iran deal Trump loyalists

Paul Mirengoff

August 3, 2017

 

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has fired three staff members in recent weeks. The three are Ezra Cohen-Watnick, senior director for intelligence; Derek Harvey, the NSC’s top Middle East adviser; and Rich Higgins, director for strategic planning. All three were aligned with Steve Bannon.

Michael Warren of the Weekly Standard discusses the purge here. Glenn Thrush and Peter Baker of the New York Times discuss it here.

Neither the Standard nor the Times reports on any ideological content to purge. Both treat it as a power struggle between McMaster and Steve Bannon, with the Times throwing in a Michael Flynn angle.

Is there an ideological component to the purge? There appears to be.

 

(Snip)

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Trump, McMaster meet amid purge of national security staffers, Susan Rice revelation

 

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster met with President Trump Thursday amid his purge of Trump loyalists from the White House national security council, a heated debate about sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan and a report that he allowed former Obama administration aide Susan E. Rice to keep her security clearance.
Gen. McMaster sent a letter to Ms. Rice in April giving her unfettered and continuing access to classified information and waiving the “need-to-know” requirement on anything she viewed or received during her tenure as President Obama’s national security adviser. A copy of the letter was obtained by Circa; Mr. Trump reportedly was not aware of Gen. McMaster’s action.
The topic of Ms. Rice has been a particularly sore spot for Mr. Trump, who was angered to learn that she unmasked the identities of Trump transition aides in conversations with Russian officials. The president has called it “a massive story.”
Gen. McMaster also has come under increasing fire from conservatives this week after Bloomberg reported that he concluded Ms. Rice did nothing wrong with the unmasking.
The head of a conservative group called for Gen. McMaster to be fired, citing the leaks Thursday of transcripts of Mr. Trump’s phone conversations with foreign leaders.
:snip:

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The New York Times Glenn Thrush On New WH COS Gen John Kelly

Hugh Hewitt

August 4 2017

 

Audio

 

(Snip)

 

HH: It’s been a couple of weeks. I’m glad you’re back. Great piece this morning. I’m very optimistic about Kelly. I spent 40 minutes with General McMaster on Wednesday which will air on MSNBC at 8am, and he seemed like a man energized, focused and empowered. I picked that up in your article. Kelly has basically given McMaster the go-to to organize the NSC, correct?

GT: Yeah, and it’s a pretty interesting dynamic. I think it’s a little bit of a slap back for Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon who were really for a long time blocking him from Trump, making personnel moves that he had wanted to make. This is really, and we talked about all the things that Kelly represents. But the real essence here is that Bannon and Kushner, and people like them, were roving very far outside of their lanes, particularly on matters of personnel, and Kelly realizes unlike Reince Priebus that if you pinch that, you know, you cut that off at the pass, that’s the way you really start running the building.

 

(Snip)

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