- National security advisor H.R. McMaster is leaving the White House.
- Rumours had circulated about his impending ouster for months.
- However, he is leaving without another job lined up, which was expected to be a condition of his departure.
Army Gen. H.R. McMaster’s ouster as White House national security advisor on Thursday was sudden, but not unexpected.
McMaster and President Donald Trump had long been at odds, with Trump at times publicly rebuking McMaster.
The Washington Post reported on March 15 that Trump was ready to remove McMaster, but had decided to take his time doing so because he didn’t want to humiliate the three-star general and wanted to have a strong successor in place.
McMaster, 55, told The New York Times on Thursday after the announcement that his departure had been discussed for weeks.
“Really, the only issue that had been left open is timing,” he said, adding that he would have preferred to stay until the summer, but the decision was prompted by “what was best for [Trump] and the country.”
However, McMaster announced that he will retire from the military and is leaving without the other job that it was long rumoured he would move to after the White House.
In August, it was reported that, amid a broader shakeup, Trump was considering giving McMaster command of forces in Afghanistan, allowing him to earn a fourth star.
Steve Bannon, Trump’s former senior adviser, characterised that potential move as a vindictive one. “McMaster wants to send more troops to Afghanistan, so we’re going to send him,” Bannon boasted to author Michael Wolff.
CNN reported in early March that the Pentagon was looking into options that would allow Trump to move McMaster from the White House back to the military. The Defence Department was reportedly also looking for four-star jobs that McMaster could take on – one potential post was head of Forces Command at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where McMaster previously served as deputy commander.
McMaster indicated on Thursday that he would instead retire from the military and public service, which would preclude him from receiving a fourth star.
“After 34 years of service to our nation, I am requesting retirement from the US Army effective this summer after which I will leave public service,” McMaster said in a statement that also thanked Trump. “Throughout my career it has been my greatest privilege to serve alongside extraordinary servicemembers and dedicated civilians.”
White House officials told The Times that the Army had been in contact with McMaster about four-star commands after he left the White House, but he reportedly declined them.
“I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend,” Trump said in a tweet announcing the departure.