Trump asserts support for McMaster
Posted August 4, 2017 11:58 p.m. EDT
President Donald Trump issued a statement of support Friday evening for national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who has come under fire from conservative media outlets this week.
"General McMaster and I are working very well together," Trump said in a statement released by the White House. "He is a good man and very pro-Israel. I am grateful for the work he continues to do serving our country."
The Army lieutenant general has faced backlash from various right-wing media outlets for personnel moves at the White House.
Earlier this week, Ezra Cohen-Watnick was removed as the senior director of intelligence on the National Security Council, which some saw as part of an effort to rid the council of former national security adviser Michael Flynn's acolytes.
"Gen. McMaster is confident that Ezra will make many further significant contributions to national security in another position in the administration," a White House official said following the news of Cohen-Watnick's departure.
Additionally, retired Army Col. Derek Harvey was also removed from his post on the security council last week.
The White House has seen significant reshuffling in the past few weeks, including the addition of Trump's newly appointed chief of staff, retired four-star Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, who was brought in with a mandate to instill order in Trump's pack of restive aides.
Some conservatives also have raised objections to McMaster's decision earlier this year to extend a security clearance for Susan Rice, President Barack Obama's final national security adviser, who has been accused by some conservatives of mishandling classified information involving Trump campaign associates.
A senior administration official said Thursday that McMaster has written letters to all past national security advisers -- including Rice -- extending their security clearances. The official characterized the letters as a pro-forma move that allows the former advisers to participate in administration discussions about national security matters that originated under their tenure.
But the impression that McMaster was going easy on Rice pervaded certain conservative websites, including Breitbart, which blared the headline: "H.R. McMaster Promised Susan Rice She Could Keep Security Clearance in Secret Letter." Another conservative outlet, The Daily Caller, declared that "Everything the President Wants to Do, McMaster Opposes."