US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, H R McMaster, has reportedly fallen out of favor at the White House after comments he made about alleged Russian meddling in the US election, and could lose his job.
CNN, citing several anonymous administration and Pentagon sources, reported on Thursday that the White House was considering pushing the active-duty US Army lieutenant-general out and back into military service. McMaster is Trump’s inner-circle adviser on national security, military and foreign affairs.
The issue is an apparent rift between McMaster and Trump over the seriousness of purported Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential race.
McMaster was quoted as saying at a security conference in Munich, Germany, on February 17 that there is “incontrovertible” evidence that Russia meddled in the US election. He made the remarks after Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed indictments against 13 Russians for conspiring to influence the election, in part to provide an edge to Trump over Hillary Clinton.
Trump exhibited his displeasure with McMaster in a tweet last week saying, “General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems.”
At a Pentagon briefing on Thursday, Dana White, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman, reportedly deflected questions back to the White House on McMaster’s status while noting his distinguished military record.
“General McMaster works for President Trump. Any decisions with regard to the staff – the White House will make those determinations,” she said.
When asked if the military would welcome McMaster back and find a spot for him in the Pentagon’s upper echelons, White again deferred to Trump.
“General McMaster is serving the president of the United States. Any decision with respect to any changes” will be up to the White House, she said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said earlier this week that Trump “still has confidence in General McMaster.”