Obama holdovers at the NSC central to White House war between Bannon, McMaster

by WorldTribune Staff, August 7, 2017

National Security Council (NSC) holdovers from the Obama administration have driven a wedge between national security adviser H.R. McMaster and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon that culminated in McMaster’s recent firing of two top aides who were seen as close to Bannon, analysts say.

McMaster sacked NSC intelligence director Ezra Cohen-Watnick and NSC Mideast director (Ret.) Col. Derek Harvey.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster, right, and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Cohen-Watnick and Harvey frequently met with Bannon in what a senior White House official described as hushed national-security related “chats.”

Cohen-Watnick and Harvey didn’t have McMaster’s permission to engage in the “chats,” which contributed heavily to McMaster’s decision to “finally make moves against them,” according to an Aug. 5 report by The Daily Beast, which cited a senior White House official.

Related: Government in exile? Valerie Jarrett moves into Obama’s D.C. mansion, March 2, 2017

John Kelly, who was said to have been hired by President Donald Trump as chief of staff to quell such internal conflicts, reportedly gave McMaster the go-ahead to remove Cohen-Watnick and Harvey.

Adding further fuel to the fire was the sacking of Rich Higgins from the NSC.

Higgins “disseminated his own paper to senior U.S. officials that argued globalists and leftists were trying to undermine Trump, without showing it to anyone within the NSC first,” the Daily Beast report said. “He was fired by McMaster’s deputy Rick Waddell for presenting his work as administration policy, one administration official said. Another administration official said Higgins shared his paper only with people from the Trump campaign that he’d met in a personal capacity, and that he never got an explanation for why he was being fired.”

The New York Times on Aug. 4 published a statement allegedly issued by Trump that declared his support for McMaster.

However, former Trump campaign manager Roger Stone tweeted that the White House issued the statement without Trump’s approval.

The New York Times report said:

“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.”

The Daily Beast report noted that “McMaster has long suspected Bannon of covertly engineering an aggressive leak campaign against him in an attempt to caricature him as anti-Israel and weak on terror – suspicions that persist to this day.”

Bannon, who was removed from the NSC earlier this year, is said to be close to former national security adviser Mike Flynn. Trump reportedly has privately said he could allow Flynn to rejoin his team in the White House if the FBI’s investigation comes out in Flynn’s favor. The Daily Beast reported that Trump advisers “in and outside of the West Wing have stressed to him” Flynn’s return would be “politically untenable.”

Meanwhile Breitbart, which Bannon formerly headed as CEO,  reported on Aug. 6 that McMaster previously had been a consulting senior fellow at a UK-based think tank financed by a George Soros-funded group that played a key role in selling the Iran nuclear deal to the public and news media.

From September 2006 to February 2017, McMaster is listed as a member of International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which describes itself as a “world-leading authority on global security, political risk and military conflict.”

The IISS, which supported the Obama administration-brokered 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, has repeatedly denied charges that Teheran has violated the accord.

McMaster “is seen as a leading proponent of the Iran nuclear accord within the Trump administration,” the Breitbart report said, adding he has reportedly urged Trump to re-certify Iran’s compliance with the deal.

An archived version of IISS’s donors page lists Ploughshares as a donor. Ploughshares is financed by Soros’s Open Society Institute.

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