by WorldTribune Staff, May 10, 2017
Just when it looked like President Donald Trump was learning to play nice with Washington officialdom, a.k.a., “The Swamp”, he riveted the nation by firing FBI Director James Comey on May 9.
In any corporation or government, there is nothing like a high-profile firing to put the entire work force on notice. That maxim is especially true for the inner circle at the Trump White House.
Now it may be H.R. McMaster’s turn to feel the heat. Mike Flynn’s replacement as national security adviser is losing his sway with the White House after a series of clashes with President Donald Trump and his inner circle, reports say.
H.R. McMaster had come into the post with “one strike against him,” Eli Lake wrote for Bloomberg on May 8.
Trump and Flynn “shared a bond from the campaign trail, where they often discussed sports and movies during long evenings on the road. For a president who puts so much value in personal relationships and loyalty, Flynn’s departure was a blow,” Lake wrote.
McMaster has “accumulated” more strikes, Lake wrote.
Trump was said to be “livid,” Lake said, citing White House officials, “after reading in the Wall Street Journal that McMaster had called his South Korean counterpart to assure him that the president’s threat to make that country pay for a new missile defense system was not official policy. These officials say Trump screamed at McMaster on a phone call, accusing him of undercutting efforts to get South Korea to pay its fair share.”
Bannon is rumored to be at the center of it all, The Hill said in a May 10 report.
“Bannon is a core architect of ‘America first’ unilateralism and has no interest in continuing forever-wars that lack support among the base in the region,” said Ian Bremmer, the president of the international consulting firm Eurasia Group.
“Afghanistan is pretty much the last U.S. intervention you’d want your name attached to. If Trump ends up going with the generals’ recommendation and increasing troops there, the America first-ers will want to make sure McMaster takes the fall when it – inevitably, in their view – goes badly.”
McMaster has also clashed with Trump’s team over personnel issues, Lake noted.
“This began with Ezra Cohen Watnick, who remains the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council. McMaster initially sided with the CIA and wanted to remove this Flynn appointee from his position, but eventually McMaster changed his mind under pressure from (Steve) Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.”
That dispute was followed by a bigger one, Lake wrote.
“Bannon and Trump, according to White House officials, pressed McMaster to fire a list of Obama holdovers at the National Security Council who were suspected of leaking to the press. The list of names was compiled by Derek Harvey, a former Defense Intelligence Agency colonel who was initially hired by Flynn. McMaster balked. He refused to fire anyone on the list and asserted that he had the authority to fire and hire National Security Council staff. He also argued that many of these appointees would be ending their rotation at the White House soon enough.
McMaster also “doesn’t represent a constituency the way Bannon does,” The Hill quoted a White House transition adviser as saying. “McMaster represents the views of 1,000 people in Washington, D.C. There’s a shine to him now, but the minute he gets in the mud, he’ll be just as dirty as the rest of the pigs.”
Lake added that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus blocked McMaster this month from hiring Brig. Gen. Ricky Waddell as his deputy, “complaining that McMaster failed to seek approval for that pick. McMaster had asked his inherited deputy to leave by May 10; she is now expected to stay on for the time being.”
For now, Lake wrote, the White House “is saying the president and his national security adviser are in sync.”
“Of course, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway assured the public in February that Trump had full confidence in McMaster’s predecessor. Only a few hours later, he was forced to resign.”