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WashPost: Trump to Remove McMaster; WH Denies Report

Image: WashPost: Trump to Remove McMaster; WH Denies Report
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster (AP)

By    |   Thursday, 15 March 2018 09:39 PM

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders debunked a report Thursday in The Washington Post that President Donald Trump was removing National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and was "actively discussing potential replacements" as part of a broader shake-up.

Sanders said on Twitter she had "just spoken" to Trump and McMaster and "contrary to reports they have a good working relationship and there are no changes at the NSC."

The Post report, however, cited "five people with knowledge of the plans," adding President Trump was "willing to take time executing the move because he wants to ensure" McMaster "is not humiliated and that there is a strong successor."

The president and McMaster have "never personally gelled," the Post reported.

McMaster, 55, an active-duty three-star Army lieutenant general, succeeded Mike Flynn last year after Trump fired him over his disclosures to Vice President Mike Pence about his Russia contacts.

Removing McMaster would follow several high-level changes in the Trump White House in the last week.

The president fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday — with plans to nominate CIA Chief Mike Pompeo as his successor — and Gary Cohn resigned last week as White House economic adviser.

Trump said Wednesday that economist and CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow would succeed Cohn.

Further, Trump signaled Thursday that other changes might be forthcoming.

"There will always be change," the president told reporters. "And I think you want to see change.

"I want to also see different ideas."

According to the Post, Trump's possible reshuffling is grounded in stronger confidence from "what he views as triumphant decisions" last week to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and his decision to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

"The president is enjoying the process of assessing his team and making changes, tightening his inner circle to those he considers survivors and who respect his unconventional style," one top administration official told the Post.

Trump has told White House chief of staff John Kelly he wanted McMaster "out" and "asked for help weighing replacement options," two people "familiar with their conversations" said.

President Trump has "complained that McMaster is too rigid and that his briefings go on too long and seem irrelevant."

McMaster's possible replacements include former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton and Keith Kellogg, the chief of staff of the National Security Council.

Kellogg travels on many domestic trips with the president, the Post reported, "in part because the president likes his company and thinks he is fun."

Bolton, who also is a Fox commentator, has met with Trump "several times and often agrees with the president’s instincts."

The president also thinks Bolton "is good on television," the Post reported.

Still, some White House staffers have been reluctant to see McMaster go "until he has a promotion to four-star rank or other comfortable landing spot," according to the Post.

"They are eager to show that someone can serve in the Trump administration without suffering severe damage to their reputation."

More broadly, the recent White House staff changes have created a mood bordering "mania" in the West Wing, the Post disclosed.

Some staffers say "they are anxious and nervous," while others are "openly joking about whose career might end with the next presidential tweet."

In particular, many White House members were "unsettled" when Trump dismissed longtime personal aide John McEntee on Tuesday after his security clearance was revoked.

"Everybody fears the perp walk," one senior White House official told the Post. "If it could happen to Johnny, the president's body guy, it could happen to anybody."

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Politics
Reports H.R. McMaster will be removed as President Donald Trump's national security adviser Thursday was debunked by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders via Twitter.
hr mcmaster, national security adviser, sarah sanders, white house, palace intrigue
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2018-39-15
Thursday, 15 March 2018 09:39 PM
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