After a week of concerns expressed from conservative pundits and news outlets that President Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, was undermining the president’s agenda, President Trump himself came out in defense of the man on Friday night in a statement he emailed to the New York Times.
“General McMaster and I are working very well together,” Trump wrote, adding, “He is a good man and very pro-Israel. I am grateful for the work he continues to do serving our country.”
Chief strategist Steve Bannon and his populist allies, including Breitbart, the news site he used to run, have argued with McMaster over his leadership of the National Security Council. Bannon has disagreed perosnally with McMaster on a range of issues; from political strategy to the war in Afghanistan.
Of course, Politico used unnamed sources who requested anonymity for fear of losing their jobs for its story on a July meeting in which McMaster pushed for additional troops in Afghanistan, and Bannon, arguing for less involvement in the war, “sparred openly.” And a slew of reports this week claimed that Trump was considering sending McMaster to Afghanistan to command U.S. forces there, and was thinking of replacing him as national security adviser with Mike Pompeo, the CIA director.
McMaster has also reportedly advised Trump against canceling the nuclear agreement with Iran, which was negotiated by the Obama administration.
Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired Marine general, has reportedly advocated for McMaster, a fellow general.
Conservative pundits have balked at McMaster having fired Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence programs at the National Security Council, who had been hired by former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
In April, after McMaster’s arrival, Bannon was removed from the NSC’s principles committee.
Attacks on McMaster intensified after a report Thursday showed that McMaster renewed the security clearance of Susan Rice, former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser. Such a renewal is considered standard practice for former officials of Rice’s stature.
Frank Gaffney Jr., president of the Center for Security Policy, said on a radio show on Friday that McMaster was “insubordinate to his commander in chief,” and Breitbart News published articles this week suggesting that McMaster is hostile towards Israel.
The hashtag #FireMcMaster was tweeted more than 50,000 times since Wednesday.
Trump and his closest advisers, however, are reportedly rallying for McMaster.
Another email sent to the Times, this one from Jared Kushner, goes to the mat for McMaster, stating, “General McMaster is a true public servant and a tremendous asset for the president and the administration. He has created and oversees a very thorough and clear process for the agencies to work together to give the president credible options to advance the president’s priorities for America’s foreign policy.”
Serious concerns have been expressed that McMaster has been purging all staffers who were hired by Flynn, who are loyal to President Trump, and has kept many holdovers from the Obama administration.
McMaster fired Rich Higgins last month after he shot out a memo warning about Islamists. Another staffer fired by McMaster recently is Derek Harvey, a former Defense Intelligence Agency colonel originally hired by Flynn and described as “one of the NSC’s best people on the Middle East.” Harvey was fired after he presented a list of names of Obama holdovers in the NSC that were suspected of leaking to the press.
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