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McMaster's Influence Noted in Syrian Airstrikes

Image: McMaster's Influence Noted in Syrian Airstrikes
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By    |   Saturday, 08 Apr 2017 09:41 AM

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster's influence grew this week with President Donald Trump reportedly launching his airstrikes on Syria following deep consultations with the Army lieutenant general.

The action came at the end of a week after McMaster orchestrated the removal of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon from the National Security Council, notes The Hill.

In McMaster's report on Thursday night about the airstrikes, the lieutenant general said the National Security Council had met on Wednesday to discuss three options with Trump, who asked the team to concentrate on two options. 

Also on Wednesday, Trump removed Bannon from the council, because of concerns about his political influence.

On Thursday, the president held a briefing with his team, continuing what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described as a "very deliberative process," and then decided to proceed to Thursday night's Tomahawk missile strikes.

"There was a thorough examination of a wide range of options, and I think the president made the correct choice and made the correct decision," said Tillerson.

McMaster, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Tillerson also handled briefings of lawmakers while the missiles hit their targets.

But while the National Security Council had a powerful role in the past when it came to making policy recommendations to the president, Trump had relied until now on his own close team of advisers, leading to Bannon's appointment to the NSC's principals committee.

Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also one of his chief advisers, has been working in international relations as well, drawing criticism because of his lack of government experience.

McMasters not only pushed to remove Bannon from the committee, but brought back Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, back onto the committee.

National security experts, though, are wondering if McMaster can keep his clout, considering pushbacks from Bannon, Kushner, and other West Wing insiders.

Already, Bannon and Kushner intervened when McMaster tried to fire Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the NSC’s senior director for intelligence programs, reports The Hill.

Cohen-Watnick was brought onto the council by McMaster's predecessor, Michael Flynn, who agreed to resign days into the Trump presidency following controversy over his meetings with a Russian ambassador.

The White House has also denied that Bannon's removal from the committee was a demotion. He attended a meeting of the NSC on Wednesday, notes The Hill, and was in Trump's situation room at the Mar-a-Lago estate after Thursday night's airstrikes.

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National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster's influence grew this week with President Donald Trump reportedly launching his airstrikes on Syria following deep consultations with the Army lieutenant general.
McMaster, Syrian, Airstrikes
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2017-41-08
Saturday, 08 Apr 2017 09:41 AM
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