US President Donald Trump is preparing to oust Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser and is “actively discussing potential replacements,” according to several sources cited by US media.
It is thought the president would like to oust McMaster before his North Korea meetings in May; however, any such move may be delayed until a successor is readied.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took to Twitter late on Thursday to debunk a report in The Washington Post about Trump’s intention to remove McMaster as part of a broader shake-up.
She said she had “just spoken” to Trump and McMaster and that “contrary to reports they have a good working relationship and there are no changes at the NSC.”
The Post report cited “five people with knowledge of the plans,” adding that the president and McMaster have “never personally gelled,” although the president wanted to ensure the three-star general “is not humiliated and that there is a strong successor.”
On Tuesday, Trump fired Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and told reporters at the White House he was near to having his ideal team. “I’m really at a point where we’re getting very close to having the Cabinet and other things that I want,” he said.
Amid speculation about McMaster’s fate, CNN claims to have learned from several sources that the push to replace McMaster comes after months of personal tensions between him and Trump. The network cites a senior Republican source as saying Trump has privately expressed irritation with McMaster stemming from differences in “personality and style.”
Amid speculation about McMaster’s fate, CNN claims to have learned from several sources that the push to replace McMaster comes after months of personal tensions between him and Trump
According to CNN, there was talk in the West Wing about replacing the 55-year-old in the autumn of last year, but he ultimately survived because officials, including the President himself, were wary about the optics of appointing a third national security adviser in less than a year. Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned within a month of taking the job amid controversy over his contact with Russian officials.
There are plans to nominate CIA Chief Mike Pompeo as Tillerson’s successor at the State Department. Meanwhile Trump said on Wednesday that the economist and CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow will succeed Gary Cohn, who resigned last week as White House economic adviser.
Trump signaled on Thursday that further changes might be forthcoming. “There will always be change,” he told reporters. “And I think you want to see change. I want to also see different ideas.”
According to the Washington Post report, the paper’s sources say the president has informed White House chief of staff John Kelly he wants McMaster “out” and has “asked for help weighing replacement options.” Trump has, moreover, “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, according to the Post, “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.