Pentagon Looking for Alternative Positions for McMaster
Alexa Lardieri, Pindostan News & World Report, Feb 22 2018

The Pentagon is considering options that would allow Pres Trump to transfer National Security Adviser Lt-Gen H R McMaster from his role in the White House back to a military position after months of rising tensions between McMaster and the commander in chief, half a dozen defense and administration officials told CNN. The officials said the Pentagon is quietly searching to see if there is a four-star military job appropriate for the three-star general. The potential change comes after months of personal tension between the president and McMaster. However, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders came to the general’s defense Tuesday, saying Trump “still has confidence in General McMaster.” Officials say the preference is to transfer McMaster to a position in the Army or DoD, which would qualify as a promotion, but some officials at the Pentagon worry the general has become too politicized in the Trump administration and are concerned about him returning to a prominent military role. Additionally, other officials say the president may not offer him a fourth star and force him to retire, CNN reported. There was talk of first ousting McMaster last fall, but officials in the White House were worried of how appointing a third national security adviser in less than a year would look to the public. McMaster replaced Michael Flynn after Flynn resigned amid controversy over his contact with Russian officials a month after assuming his position. Flynn was indicted by Robert Mueller and subsequently plead guilty to charges he lied to investigators. Officials familiar with the situation don’t think the general’s job is any safer now than it was in the fall, however, saying it’s been at risk for months. The senior Thug with knowledge of the White House told CNN McMaster is “safe until he’s not.”

Will Trump Ship Mcmaster Back To Afghanistan?
Abigail Tracy, Vanity Fair, Feb 22 2018

Only in the steel cage of Donald Trump’s White House would a feud between the president and his national security adviser constitute a reprieve for the chief of staff. Yet, after weeks as the public face of West Wing dysfunction, perhaps John Kelly can take some small comfort in watching another senior aide take his turn in the barrel. As CNN reports, tensions have escalated between Trump and General H R McMaster, the president’s primary liaison to the National Security Council, after months of friction between the two. According to a half-dozen sources, the Pentagon is examining options to remove McMaster from Trump’s direct employ in a move that could see the three-star general returned to a military position outside the White House, perhaps with an additional star for his troubles. Rumors of bad blood between Trump and McMaster have plagued the national security adviser’s tenure from the beginning, when he took over from Mike Flynn, the president’s first pick for the job, whom he reportedly regrets having fired. Whereas Trump and Flynn shared a conspiratorial view of the world (not to mention rabid Islamophobia), McMaster’s punctuated, self-serious style has reportedly irritated the president. Tom Ricks, a columnist and author who covers military affairs, told Politico:

McMaster is very much, “OK, sir, here’s the point, here’s the takeaway, here’s my point of view, and here are the things you need to decide by the end of today.”

According to a senior White House aide, Trump once interrupted McMaster during a lengthy policy briefing to roast his adviser: “Look at this guy; he’s so serious!” Others accuse Steve Bannon of poisoning the well after McMaster removed Bannon from the National Security Council, setting off a vicious smear campaign that’s played out on Breitbart News. Even after Bannon was ejected from the White House, McMaster has struggled to find his footing. In a West Wing where personal relationships are tantamount, and office politics can resemble Lord of the Flies (sic – RB), McMaster has remained distant from Kelly and Mattis, Politico reports. While Trump’s political instincts verge toward isolationism, McMaster has been an ardent defender of Pindostan’s wars in the Middle East, often siding with more hawkish factions of the administration over the president’s favored advisers. Those tensions flared into public view again last weekend, when Trump rebuked McMaster for saying that the DoJ’s evidence against 13 Russians indicted for election meddling was “incontrovertible.” Trump wrote on Twitter:

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. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!

McMaster is not the first Trump aide to face time in the pillory. Both Sessions and Tillerson have weathered similar attacks and remain standing. Speculation that Trump could oust McMaster date back to last summer, when McMaster’s advocacy for a troop surge in Afghanistan led to reports that Trump, a longtime skeptic of the 16-year war, had grumbled about sending McMaster instead. One source familiar with the thinking said at the time:

He wants to send more troops to Afghanistan, so we’re going to send him!

Sarah Sanders told CNN that that president “still has confidence in General McMaster.” Sources familiar with the situation, however, seem to think this time is different. Trump and a small group of advisers including Kelly reopened the conversation in November, Politico reports, though there were concerns about the optics of having to hire a third national security adviser in Trump’s first year. Who would replace McMaster is also an open question, the Trump White House has continuously struggled to find qualified and willing individuals to fill vacancies who are not on the so-called “blacklist” of people who have previously criticized Trump. Following Flynn’s resignation, McMaster wasn’t even the first choice. Trump originally offered the role to retired vice admiral Robert Harward, but he ultimately declined to join the administration.

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