The White House is denying, but the media insists: H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser — the one who’s long been said to have strong sympathasies with the Muslim community — is on his way out.
President Donald Trump is “now comfortable” with firing him, several sources told the likes of the Washington Post and NBC News in recent days.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, has denied. But fact is: The whispers persist.
And for those who’ve been concerned about the national security of America, McMaster’s ouster is long overdue.
He’s the guy, after all, who refused to call Islamic terror what it is — tied to the religion Islam.
If you thought the debate surrounding the phrase “Islamic terrorism” had ended with the departure of Barack Obama from the White House — think again.
President Donald Trump’s choice of national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, has once again tried to sidestep the connection between Islam and terror.
Some have even outright called McMaster an Islam apologist:
Donald Trump is planning to remove H.R. McMaster as national security adviser just days after firing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in the latest shake up of his administration, officials say.
The president ‘now comfortable’ with firing US Army Lieutenant General McMaster, who he never really got on with, sources told the Washington Post. He is even discussing potential replacements, although he’s reportedly willing to take his time to avoid humiliating the respected general.
However, the White House has hit back at the claims, with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeting: ‘Just spoke to @POTUS and Gen. H.R. McMaster – contrary to reports they have a good working relationship and there are no changes at the NSC.’
Trump tweeted a similar denial in December, amid rumors he was planning to fire Tillerson.
He branded the speculation ‘fake news’ saying ‘he’s not leaving and while we disagree on certain subjects, (I call the final shots) we work well together and America is highly respected again!’
On Tuesday, Trump fired Tillerson from his role as the secretary of state in a tweet. The president reportedly always disliked Tillerson, and has already moved to install his own ally, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, in the job.
The following day, he named conservative TV analyst Larry Kudlow as economic adviser, after Gary Cohn quit over trade disagreements.
Staffers are reportedly now terrified who is going to be next on the chopping block.
And Trump did nothing to allay those fears on Thursday when he hinted that there would be more shake ups to come.
‘There will always be change,’ the president told reporters. ‘And I think you want to see change. I want to also see different ideas.’
One White House aide worried aloud to theAxios news website on Wednesday that Trump is running ‘the most toxic working environment on the planet.’
‘Usually tough times bring people together. But right now this atmosphere is ripping people apart. There’s no leadership, no trust, no direction and this point there’s very little hope,’ the aide said.
The Post reports that some in the White House are reluctant to oust McMaster, a three-star general, as they want to show that people can serve in Trump’s administration without it damaging their careers or reputation.
They have urged the president to delay pushing the security adviser out until he’s promoted to four-star rank or has a cushy alternative role lined up.
However, Trump already appears to be considering his alternatives and has reportedly already spoken with John Bolton, a very conservative defense hawk and former United Nations ambassador under George W. Bush, about replacing McMaster – a three-star general who has already spoken with the Pentagon about a return to active duty.
Other potential candidates could include Keith Kellogg, the chief of staff of the National Security Council.
Yet Trump denies a mass exodus from his administration, calling such news reports ‘very false.’
Trump has been frustrated by stories that project as many as four senior officials following McMasters, Cohn and Tillerson out the door.
‘They wrote a story about staff changes today that was very false,’ Trump said, without singling out any news outlet. ‘We made a wonderful change. I think Mike Pompeo is going to be an incredible secretary of state.’
‘I’ve gotten to know a lot of people over the last year … so there will always be change, but very little.’
‘It was a very false story, a very exaggerated and false story,’ the president added.
But the Post reports that Trump appears to enjoy watching his subordinates battle it out for his approval.
‘I like conflict. I like having two people with different points of view,’ Trump said last week. ‘I like watching it, I like seeing it, and I think it’s the best way to go.’
He allegedly has been fueling some of the ousting rumors, musing to other staffers who he thinks would be best to fill a certain role.
One very public firing, which sent a ripple of panic through the administration, was that of Trump’s personal aide and body man, John McEntee.
McEntee was marched out the White House on Tuesday after he came under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for serious financial crimes and his security clearance was revoked.
‘Everybody fears the perp walk,’ a senior White House official said. ‘If it could happen to Johnny, the president’s body guy, it could happen to anybody.’
But for some staffers, the situation has become so ridiculous, they have been cracking jokes or even betting on who will be next out of the White House.
Sources say attorney General Jeff Sessions, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly could all be primed to exit the administration.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s name is circulating as a possible replacement for Sessions, who has incurred the president’s wrath for more than a year because he recused himself from an investigation about possible collusion between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign.
As a former state attorney general who had nothing to do with the campaign itself, Pruitt wouldn’t be constrained from getting directly involved.
‘Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else,’ Trump told The New York Times last summer, adding that the decision was ‘extremely unfair’ to him as president.
Shulkin, the lone Obama administration holdover in Trump’s Cabinet, has ethics problems and may be pushed out any day now. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, a former U.S. Air Force pilot, says he’s not interested in a lateral move to take over that agency.
White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy have been publicly floated as potential successors to Kelly.
This week the president hired CNBC financial commentator Larry Kudlwo to be his chief economic adviser, replacing Cohn.
He also named CIA Director Mike Pompeo as the new secretary of state, filling the hole created by a presidential tweet on Tuesday morning.
Gina Haspel, the CIA’s deputy director, will become the first woman to lead the spy agency once Pompeo makes his transition.
Others at risk could be Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who has come under fire for his spending, after splashing $31,000 on a dining room set for his office; Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, criticized for his taxpayer funded first-class travel and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, whose agency spent $139,000 on new office doors.
The staff turnover in Trump’s White House has proceeded at a historic pace.
Just 14 months after Inauguration Day, more than 20 senior administration aides have already quit, or been fired or reassigned to other jobs.