The Long Knives Are out for H. R. McMaster

When President Trump’s national security adviser, H. R. McMaster, fired a staunch Flynn loyalist yesterday, he kicked over an anthill of anger.

The guy in question was Ezra Cohen-Watnick. No one knows a lot about him other than he was a GS-13 in the DIA (basically the equivalent of a major/lieutenant colonel in the military) and was elevated to general officer equivalent based on the strength of his relationship with Michael Flynn. McMaster tried to fire him back in March but Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon prevailed upon Trump, himself, to save Cohen-Watnick’s job.


Cohen-Watnick was simply the last of three Flynn loyalists axed and a Ted Cruz staffer selected by Flynn, Victoria Coates, was moved from the NSC to the administration’s Middle East negotiating team. He was also the last straw. McMaster’s enemies are pulling out all the stops to discredit him.

Via Free Beacon:

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.

More purges are said to be on the way, according to multiple insiders who described a list of at least four other senior NSC officials McMaster intends to target. Other sources confirmed the likelihood of more purges, but disputed some details on that list.

“McMaster basically has this list and over the next two weeks he’s going to phase out” more senior officials loyal to Trump, said one administration insider intimately familiar with the upheaval occurring at the White House National Security Council. “They’re taking out people who were chosen to best implement the president’s policy that he articulated during the campaign.”


Caroline Glick, who is best know for her work as a Jerusalem Post columnist, published a lengthy Facebook post in which McMaster was portrayed as a virtual jihadi:

According to senior officials aware of his behavior, he constantly refers to Israel as the occupying power and insists falsely and constantly that a country named Palestine existed where Israel is located until 1948 when it was destroyed by the Jews.

What hasn’t been reported is that it was McMaster who pressured Trump to agree not to let Netanyahu accompany him to the Western Wall. At the time, I and other reporters were led to believe that this was the decision of rogue anti-Israel officers at the US consulate in Jerusalem. But it wasn’t. It was McMaster.

And even that, it works out wasn’t sufficient for McMaster. He pressured Trump to cancel his visit to the Wall and only visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial — ala the Islamists who insist that the only reason Israel exists is European guilt over the Holocaust.

[McMaster] fires all of Trump’s loyalists and replaces them with Trump’s opponents, like Kris Bauman, an Israel hater and Hamas supporter who McMaster hired to work on the Israel-Palestinian desk. He allows anti-Israel, pro-Muslim Brotherhood, pro-Iran Obama people like Robert Malley to walk around the NSC and tell people what to do and think. He has left Ben (reporters know nothing about foreign policy and I lied to sell them the Iran deal) Rhodes’ and Valerie Jarrett’s people in place.


And, to make matters worse, John McCain is to blame:

And who recommended McMaster? You won’t believe this.

Senator John McCain. That’s right. The NSA got his job on the basis of a recommendation from the man who just saved Obamacare.

Also today is this from Sara Carter (whose work I like) at Circa:

Almost one month after it was disclosed that former President Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice was unmasking members of President Trump’s team and other Americans, Trump’s own national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, sent an official letter giving her unfettered and continuing access to classified information and waiving her “need-to-know” requirement on anything she viewed or received during her tenure, Circa has confirmed.

The exemption given Rice was for documents she had personally worked on or approved and it is usually given to officials who are writing a memoir of their time in office. But never mind because History’s Greatest Monster has struck again.

I don’t know McMaster beyond his reputation. As far as I’m concerned there is a lot of heavy breathing here for no reason. Flynn wanted an Obama-esque NSC that set policy. He brought in his cadre of true believers. McMaster wants a much smaller and more restrained NSC that facilitates the setting and execution of policy. His bias is towards people who are familiar with the interagency process and who are collegial. McMaster, now empowered by John Kelly as chief of staff, is moving swiftly to impose his vision on the NSC.


In the end, McMaster is not going to be punted over hurt feelings among Trump loyalists who believe they earned a place at the table. So long as Mattis and Kelly remain, my money is on McMaster serving two years and departing with a fourth star and a regional command.


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