The White House insists there are 'no changes' at the National Security Council as word of H.R. McMaster's imminent replacement spreads

  • The White House on Thursday night denied reports that President Donald Trump was set to replace national security adviser H.R. McMaster.
  • Five people with knowledge of the plan told The Washington Post that McMaster’s ouster was all but imminent. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied the assertion Thursday night, saying “there are no changes at the NSC.”
  • If it happens, McMaster’s departure would follow those of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was fired earlier this week, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, and White House communications director Hope Hicks, who resigned last month.

The White House on Thursday night denied reports that President Donald Trump was set to replace national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

Five people with knowledge of the plan told The Washington Post that McMaster’s ouster was all but imminent. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied the assertion, saying Trump and McMaster “have a good working relationship and there are no changes at the NSC.”

The Post later amended its story to show that, when asked, multiple senior White House officials “did not dispute that the president had made a decision” about the national security adviser.

White House chief of staff John Kelly apparently also told staff that “Trump has made up his mind about ousting McMaster,” the newspaper reported.

The Wall Street Journal followed up with its own report, in which it also indicated that Trump does intend to push McMaster out.

Trump received some criticism earlier this week for the manner in which he fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, an announcement that the president made on Twitter.

It was not immediately clear if or when McMaster would leave the Trump administration, and both The Post and The Journal cited sources familiar with the matter who said Trump was seeking an orderly departure for the three-star general.

McMaster’s exit would follow those of National Economic Council director Gary Cohn and White House communications director Hope Hicks, who resigned last month.

By all accounts, Trump has sought to remake his Cabinet amid a whirlwind of chaos that continued from his first year in office through the first months of 2018. People familiar with the president’s thinking say he is emboldened by the unrest which was fostered in part by frequent clashes with the moderate wing of his administration.

But political observers are worried that Trump will replace those moderating forces – those who have leaned away from Trump’s nationalist-leaning agenda, among other things – and install more loyalists in their place.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is another one potentially on the chopping block. Sessions’ relationship with the president has been tenuous ever since he recused himself from the Russia investigation.

Additionally, Trump has bristled at the criticism some of his advisers have aired about him. Tillerson reportedly called Trump a “moron,” and ignited the president’s anger in October 2017 when Tillerson refused to deny using the pejorative. McMaster was accused of calling Trump an “idiot” who has the intelligence of a “kindergartner” during a July 2017 dinner in Washington, DC. A National Security Council spokesperson denied that report at the time.

Trump was odds with Cohn more recently, after the president announced massive tariffs on steel and aluminium. Cohn was unhappy with the move, and had pushed Trump to reconsider. Instead, Trump tried unsuccessfully to get Cohn to fall in line.

Cohn, at one point, was being considered as a possible replacement for White House chief of staff John Kelly, another top staffer with whom Trump is frequently at odds.

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