- The White House is reportedly planning to replace National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.
- McMaster reportedly threatened to quit in front of his staff and voiced frustration at White House officials.
- President Donald Trump is believed to have berated McMaster on several occasions, including one instance during which he complained McMaster droned on during meetings.
As reports Thursday painted national security adviser H.R. McMaster on the verge of a potential White House departure, a fuller picture emerged of McMaster’s tenure, a rocky one that at least one point made him threaten to quit.
McMaster, who took on the role last February, has been known to storm out of the West Wing in fits of rage, according to The Washington Post. He also reportedly threatened to quit, but eventually calmed down hours later.
“He often gets frustrated, goes through a phase, and his peer support group pulls him out of a funk,” a senior administration official said to The Post. “I was convinced several times that this was it for his departure. Hasn’t happened. I think he deep down cares too much.”
McMaster’s statements and views have found himself often at odds with President Donald Trump. In his first group meeting at the National Security Council, he reportedly said using the term “radical Islamic terrorism” was counterproductive. Trump has used that label liberally before and after his election.
Trump became increasingly frustrated with McMaster during meetings, according to The Post. The publication said Trump griped that McMaster droned on too long and was too rigid in his thinking. In one instance, when McMaster entered the Oval Office over the summer, Trump complained that he had already seen him that day.
Tension builds – and not just with Trump
Trump publicly took a rhetorical swing at McMaster last month, when he asserted that McMaster “forgot to say” during one public appearance that the 2016 US presidential election was “not impacted or changed” by Russia’s meddling.
McMaster has also reportedly been at odds with other senior officials, including Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
McMaster griped that Mattis, a former four-star Marine Corps general, treated him “like a three-star” as opposed to an equal in the administration, according to The Post.
Mattis and Tillerson are also believed to have opposed McMaster’s idea of a preemptive “bloody nose” strike against North Korea. McMaster was said to be a staunch proponent and has indicated that a limited strike may be needed to “compel” North Korea into denuclearizing. Mattis and Tillerson, on the other hand, are said to have warned the Trump administration of its potential implications and the chance that the conflict could spiral out of control after such a move.
White House denies McMaster is near the end
Several reports on Thursday floated potential replacements for McMaster, including Stephen Biegun, the vice president of international governmental affairs at Ford Motor Company; Safra Catz, Oracle’s co-CEO; and John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations.
But the White House pushed back on reports of McMaster’s impending exit, which was first reported by NBC News.
“We frequently face rumour and innuendo about senior administration officials,” deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in a statement. “There are no personnel announcements at this time.”
National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton suggested Trump more emphatically denied the report.
“I was just with President Trump and 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.”
Prior to joining the Trump administration, McMaster, a three-star US Army general, was widely praised for his military service. He was 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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