Trump defends national security advisor from right-wing critics

06 August, 2017, 01:39 | Author: Rita Burton
  • Donald Trump has not warmed to the State Department

"General McMaster and I are working very well together", he said to The New York Times.

The Times noted that Frank Gaffney Jr., president of the Center for Security Policy, had called McMaster "insubordinate to his commander in chief" in areas such as Islamic terrorism.

McMaster's comments came amid heightened tensions between the USA and North Korea, particularly over Pyongyang's continued efforts to advance its weapons and nuclear programs.

Some right-wing media outlets this week began a sustained attack on McMaster after he removed a top intelligence adviser, seen as a continuation of his effort to purge acolytes of his predecessor, Gen. Michael Flynn, from the National Security Council.

"There is a split in the White House between the Bannon camp of ideologues and the McMaster-Mattis-Tillerson camp of more centrist intellectuals", Pete Mansoor, a retired Army colonel who worked closely with McMaster, told Politico. But McMaster has faced accusations he is anti-Israel due to his support of the Iran nuclear deal and reports that he refers to Israel as "the occupying power".

Circa revealed in March that during President Obama's tenure, top aides - including Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch - routinely reviewed intelligence reports received from the National Security Agency's incidental intercepts of Americans overseas. Trump wants to deal with the Islam issue - McMaster doesn't. Some former NSC officials think so.

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"The identities of U.S. persons may be released under two circumstances: 1) the identity is needed to make sense of the intercept; 2) if a crime is involved in the conversation", said Robert Deitz, a former senior counselor to the CIA director and former general counsel at the National Security Agency. "After extensive research, Harvey compiled a list of suspected leakers and reportedly delivered it straight to the president, who then took his list to McMaster".

The campaign has been characterized as part of an ongoing war in the White House an between "America First" nationalist faction led by Bannon, and a centrist Republican faction which has coalesced around McMaster and Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner. The letter also states that the "NSC will continue to work with you to ensure the appropriate security clearance documentation remains on file to allow you access to classified information".

President Donald Trump was not aware of the letter or McMaster's decision, two senior West Wing officials and an intelligence official told Circa on condition of anonymity.

McMaster is also under fire for his stance on Israel.

A White House official said McMaster is "confident that Ezra will make many further significant contributions to national security in another position in the administration".

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