- The White House is reportedly planning to replace National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.
- His departure could come as soon as next month, according to NBC News.
- A White House spokesperson did not confirm the NBC report, saying only that it had “no personnel announcements at this time.”
- But a National Security Council spokesman said Trump had recently met with McMaster to congratulate him for “a great job” and called the NBC News report “fake news.”
White House officials are preparing to replace national security adviser H.R. McMaster as early as next month, according to an NBC News report published on Thursday.
White House chief of staff John Kelly and Secretary of Defence James Mattis are orchestrating the move, five people familiar with the discussion told NBC’s Nicolle Wallace, the former White House communications director under President George W. Bush who is now an MSNBC host.
McMaster has long been rumoured to be eyeing the exits amid reports of friction with President Donald Trump. Kelly, another former military general serving in Trump’s Cabinet, has also been reported to be on thin ice.
NBC said potential replacements for McMaster included Stephen Biegun, the vice president of international governmental affairs at Ford Motor Company. Prior to joining Ford, Biegun was the executive secretary of the National Security Council from 2001 to 2003 and served as a senior staffer to former national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.
The White House did not officially confirm the NBC News report on Thursday. “We frequently face rumour and innuendo about senior administration officials,” principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in a statement. “There are no personnel announcements at this time.”
But National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton suggested Trump emphatically denied the report. “I was just with President Trump and H.R. McMaster in the Oval Office,” Anton said. “President Trump said that the NBC News story is ‘fake news,’ and told McMaster that he is doing a great job.”
McMaster is Trump’s second national security adviser after Michael Flynn, who resigned in February 2017 over reports that he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his prior communications with Russian officials.
During his tenure, McMaster’s statements often appeared to put him at odds with Trump. In his first group meeting at the National Security Council, he reportedly said using the term “radical Islamic terrorism” was counterproductive – a label Trump has liberally used before and after the election.
Trump also took a rhetorical swing at McMaster last month, when he asserted that McMaster “forgot to say” that the 2016 US presidential election was “not impacted or changed” by Russia’s meddling.
Prior to joining the Trump administration, McMaster was widely praised for his service in the US Army. He is highly respected among military personnel and veterans and has been called a “warrior-scholar,” similar to Mattis.
His PhD dissertation-turned-book, Dereliction of Duty, chronicled how military officials did not effectively stand up to President Lyndon B. Johnson during the Vietnam War.
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