My last post was the first part of the McMaster Chronicles, charting HR’s time in the Trump administration from February – early May 2017.
The story continues.
On May 15, Alex Jones and Roger Stone wondered if McMaster was leaking information to save his job. Jones tweeted:
Mc Master Caught Leaking to Make Himself Indespensible
On June 11, Cernovich posted again on Medium. The Right News has a copy (emphasis mine):
Meet Eric Ciaramella — H.R. McMaster Appoints Susan Rice Ally to be his Personal Aide
This is an explosive article, excerpted below (emphases in the original):
Ciaramella’s ascension is surprising considering pro-Trump sources within the Obama administration disclosed to me in December, 2016 that Ciaramella’s helped draft Susan Rice’s anti-Trump talking points before the Inauguration.
In fall of 2016 as Obama’s director for Ukraine on the NSC, Ciaramella was the main force pushing Trump-Russia conspiracy theories.
Some suspect Ciaramella was one of the original leakers who told the media about classified conversations Trump had with Russian diplomat Sergei Lavrov. While it’s unproven that Ciaramella leaked that conversation, it is now a fact of life that he will have access to every conversation Trump has with foreign officials, as part of his official duties for McMaster.
When this story first came to me, my question was, “This is a huge personnel move. Why hasn’t Politico run it?”
My sources told me other outlets passed on the story, because, “This isn’t the type of information the mainstream media wants out there.”
Note the second sentence in the third paragraph:
it is now a fact of life that he will have access to every conversation Trump has with foreign officials, as part of his official duties for McMaster.
On June 29, McMaster and Gary Cohn gave a press briefing before Trump’s trip to Poland, then to Germany for the G20. Both sounded Trumpian. In short: America First does not mean America Alone.
On July 12, McMaster, Reince Priebus and Gary Cohn left for Paris, where Emmanuel Macron and his wife hosted the Trumps for Bastille Day.
On July 21, McMaster was so fed up with Cernovich’s tweets about him that he held a town hall to discuss them! This was originally on Medium, but now on The Right News. Hilarious!
America’s National Security Adviser is a three-star general, and he held a meeting to discuss yours truly.
The Bloomberg report Cerno cited says:
At a town hall for National Security Council staffers last week, their boss, H.R. McMaster, had a message for those assembled. “There’s no such thing as a holdover,” the national security adviser said, referring to the career professionals who stayed on the council after the presidential transition in January. McMaster went on to say that career staffers are loyal to the president.
He was responding to a series of tweets from the blogger Mike Cernovich, who singled out some lower-level staffers, by name, as alleged leakers. He was standing by the people who worked for him.
Eli Lake’s article also signalled that McMaster was sailing close to the wind at the White House:
White House and administration officials tell me that McMaster has become estranged from Mattis and Tillerson in particular. As a result, he has seen much of his influence over the policy-making process diminished, and has become isolated inside the government …
In the case of McMaster, administration officials tell me he is perceived not to be a reliable messenger of the president’s wishes …
McMaster has also seen his authority wane inside the west wing. Since taking the job in February, he has gone through four executive assistants, an important post that serves as the gate-keeper to the national security adviser and oversees his schedule …
McMaster has also clashed with Tom Bossert, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. On the organization chart for the White House, Bossert reports directly to Trump … At the last minute, McMaster tried to cancel a trip Bossert took in June to Israel to address a cybersecurity forum, reflecting concerns from other department heads that NSC staffers were overstepping their roles in foreign travel. McMaster eventually withdrew his objections, and Bossert attended the conference in Tel Aviv.
On July 27, Frontpage reported that McMaster fired Derek Harvey, who had been the director of the US Central Command Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of Excellence:
Derek Harvey was the key figure when it came to the Middle East. He was against the Iran Deal and the funding of Palestinian Authority terror. He called out Islamic Jihad. He tried to force out the Obama holdovers running our foreign policy.
The article went on to say that McMaster was purging General Michael Flynn’s appointments:
Flynn’s people get forced out and replaced with establishment zombies. The Obama holdovers continue to run foreign policy. The swamp is now in full control of the NSC.
This one is a really big win for McMaster. And a great loss for America. It will set back our ability to fight Islamic terrorism. Iran, Al Qaeda and the Palestinian Authority are celebrating today.
Frontpage stated that Trump could reverse the firing, although he never did. General Mattis, the article said, also sided with McMaster on Harvey, possibly because:
Harvey hasn’t been afraid to call out Islamic terrorism as a threat. And he was the point man for trying to force out the Obama holdovers …
Harvey has been a firm opponent of the Iran Deal. He’s not perfect on Islam, but he has emphasized the theological connection to Islamic terrorism. And he tried to halt the funding of Palestinian Authority terrorism …
The left hated Derek Harvey for his views.
Harvey was legendary. Bob Woodward mentioned him in his 2008 book, The War Within:
In the late 1980s, Harvey traveled throughout Iraq by taxicab—500 miles, village to village—interviewing locals, sleeping on mud floors with a shower curtain for a door. He [was] full of questions, intensely curious and entirely nonthreatening. After the 1991 Gulf War, when the CIA was predicting the inevitable fall of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Harvey, then a major, insisted that Hussein would survive because members of the Sunni community knew their fortunes were tied to his. He was right. Months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Harvey wrote an intelligence paper declaring that al Qaeda and the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan posed a strategic threat to the United States.
A few days later, the Gateway Pundit had an interview clip of Lt Col Tony Shaffer on Lou Dobbs. Shaffer said that McMaster’s holding on to Obama’s people was dangerous:
… Ben Rhodes for example, well Ben Rhodes has got, his staff is still there. It’s like having a rattle snake next to your bed and thinking some how if you’re just nice enough to the snake it’s going to be nice. It’s not like that.
On July 28, the Gateway Pundit reported:
Sara Carter of Circa News is reporting that sources are telling her that NatSec Advisor, H.R. McMaster has been communicating White House internal politics to Deep State Acting FBI Director Andy McCabe. Carter then implied that more White House shake-ups are perhaps on the horizon.
Hmm. McCabe was recently shown the door and is the subject of the DOJ’s Inspector General report released on Friday, April 13. The article is more about McCabe than McMaster and reveals what he had been up to. Recommended reading.
On August 2, The Atlantic featured an article about McMaster’s firing top NSC official Rich Higgins for having written a memo in May that:
describes supposed domestic and international threats to Trump’s presidency, including globalists, bankers, the “deep state,” and Islamists. The memo characterizes the Russia story as a plot to sabotage Trump’s nationalist agenda. It asserts that globalists and Islamists are seeking to destroy America. The memo also includes a set of recommendations, arguing that the problem constitutes a national-security priority.
I’ve read it. It’s eloquent and spot on.
The Conservative Treehouse disagreed not only with Higgins’s memo but also with The Atlantic‘s article in an effort to defend McMaster’s presence. I really like the site and spend hours on there, but this continued defence of McMaster — just because Trump appointed him — was mistaken.
That same day, Caroline Glick posted about another sensible staffer McMaster fired, Adam Lovinger, who was pro-India:
In May, Adam Lovinger, a pro-Trump national security strategist on loan from the Pentagon’s office of net assessment was summarily informed that his security clearance was revoked. He was fired and escorted from the White House like a spy and put on file duty at the Pentagon.
Glick wondered why Flynn was fired for nothing, yet McMaster was still there.
Big news emerged on August 3. Circa’s Sara Carter — who appeared on Sean Hannity’s radio show that day — revealed a copy of the letter McMaster sent chief unmasker Susan Rice in April 2017. Carter wrote that the letter gives Rice (emphases mine):
unfettered and continuing access to classified information and waiving her “need-to-know” requirement on anything she viewed or received during her tenure, Circa has confirmed.
The undated and unclassified letter from McMaster was sent in the mail to Rice’s home during the last week of April. Trump was not aware of the letter or McMaster’s decision, according to two senior West Wing officials and an intelligence official, who spoke to Circa on condition that they not be named.
My guess is that, once Trump found out about this — date unknown — he hit the roof and McMaster had to go. One of the White House officials Sara Carter spoke to confirmed the letter’s authenticity and says that the implications are bad for Trump. The official told her (direct quote):
Basically, this letter which was signed in the last week of April undercuts the president’s assertion that Susan Rice’s unmasking activity was inappropriate. In essence, anybody who committed a violation as she did would not be given access to classified information. In fact, they would have their security clearance and right to ‘need-to-know’ stripped.
I hope McMaster’s successor John Bolton will look into this pronto. Who knows what sort of intel she’s getting? The mind boggles.
Jack Posobiec tweeted:
I’ve held off on this for long as I could, but its time for the WH to find a Natl Sec Advisor who supports the President
The Conservative Treehouse said that Sara Carter’s story was ‘propaganda’ and that McMaster’s letter only allows Rice to access information she had already seen. Also:
Regardless of your position on him, there’s no doubt specific knives, with specific motives, are out to get rid of McMaster.
Strangely enough, the anti-Trump Weekly Standard said the same thing:
Revoking Rice’s clearance would have been unusual. And that practice applies not just to national security advisers but to other departments and agencies, such as secretary of State. The reason, the official said, is for the purposes of continuity. Without a continued security clearance, it would be illegal for government officials to discuss relevant sensitive information with a former official. The process for reauthorizing a past official’s security clearance is lengthy.
This may or may not be a bad practice, but one thing the official stressed to me was that this security clearance doesn’t give former officials like Rice continued asking privileges for sensitive information.
Sara Carter also appeared on Hannity that night (Fox News). The following day, The Conservative Treehouse posited that those who oppose McMaster are NeverTrumpers in the Ted Cruz camp:
Whether Sara Carter is being hoodwinked into accepting feeder pellets from anti-Trump elements in DC was previously our question. However, Carter’s willingness to sell this McMaster-Rice conspiracy, specifically though the use of misleading information, points toward her as a willing advocate and participant in the overall narrative.
…That is to say an amalgam of opportunistic GOPe and Cruzbots.
True, some were Cruzbots. But even President Trump makes mistakes in his appointments.
President Trump defended McMaster in what the Washington Times called:
an unusual statement issued shortly before midnight Friday.
Trump said that McMaster was a good man and pro-Israel. Nothing could have been further from the truth, but I think Trump was unaware of McMaster’s disloyalty.
The Washington Times said that the two men had met on Thursday, August 3:
amid Gen. McMaster’s purge of Trump loyalists from the White House national security council, a heated debate about sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan and a report that he allowed former Obama administration aide Susan E. Rice to keep her security clearance.
With regard to Susan Rice:
The topic of Ms. Rice has been a particularly sore spot for Mr. Trump, who was angered to learn that she unmasked the identities of Trump transition aides in conversations with Russian officials. The president has called it “a massive story.”
Gen. McMaster also has come under increasing fire from conservatives this week after Bloomberg reported that he concluded Ms. Rice did nothing wrong with the unmasking.
How could a sizeable and vocal rump of Trump loyalists not see McMaster was bad news? Oh, yes, that’s right. All of this was ‘fake news’.
PowerLine analysed the news stories from the Weekly Standard and the New York Times about McMaster’s purge of Trump loyalists:
Neither the Standard nor the Times reports on any ideological content to purge. Both treat it as a power struggle between McMaster and Steve Bannon, with the Times throwing in a Michael Flynn angle.
Paul Mirengoff’s article quashed the notion that McMaster was pro-Israel:
If, as I understand to be the case, there has been no purge of Obama holdovers, this would suggest that McMaster is comfortable with Obama-era national security policy, or at least more comfortable with it than he is with the national security policy President Trump campaigned on.
There are strong indications that this is so. Specifically, it may be that McMaster’s views on Israel and Iran are more in line with Obama’s than with Trump’s.
Yes, indeed. Combine that with his statement that Susan Rice did nothing wrong by unmasking members of the Trump transition team and one could conclude only that McMaster did not support either Trump or his policies.
On August 4, Breitbart reported that Jared Kushner stepped in to defend McMaster:
“General McMaster is a true public servant and a tremendous asset for the president and the administration,” he said.
“He has created and oversees a very thorough and clear process for the agencies to work together to give the president credible options to advance the president’s priorities for America’s foreign policy,” Kushner added.
By now, General John Kelly was five days into his job as chief of staff. Allegedly, he, too, weighed in. From the Washington Examiner:
John Kelly, Trump’s new chief of staff, has told McMaster he supports him remaining as national security adviser, Politico reported, citing two unnamed senior White House aides.
Daniel Greenfield wrote for FrontPage about McMaster’s purge. Ezra Cohen-Watnick had been fired. So had Rich Higgins, author of the memo about the dangers of the Deep State, globalism and radical Islam:
Higgins had served as a director for strategic planning at the NSC. He had warned in plain language about the threat of Islamic terrorism, of Sharia law, of the Hijrah colonization by Islamic migrants, of the Muslim Brotherhood, and of its alliance with the left as strategic threats.
Higgins had stood by Trump during the Khizr Khan attacks …
Like [Derek] Harvey and Ezra Watnick-Cohen, Higgins had warned of an enemy within. And paid the price.
McMaster’s cronies had allegedly used the NSC’s email system to track down the source of the memo. The left and its useful idiots were indeed entrenched at the upper level of the bureaucracy.
Higgins was fired.
Like Harvey and Watnick-Cohen, Higgins had also become too dangerous to the Obama holdovers. Harvey had assembled a list of names and a plan to dismantle the Iranian nuclear deal. Watnick-Cohen had dug into the Obama surveillance of Trump officials. And Higgins had sought to declassify Presidential Study Directive 11. PSD-11 was the secret blueprint of Obama’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Pete Hoekstra, the former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, linked PSD-11 to the rise of ISIS and called for its declassification.
Replacing Harvey is Michael Bell. When the Washington Post needed someone to badmouth Dr. Gorka, they turned to Bell: the former chancellor of the College of International Security Affairs at the National Defense University. Bell suggested that Dr. Gorka was an uneven scholar. And Dr. Gorka was accused of failing to incorporate other perspectives on Islam.
Greenfield wrote another article that day asking ‘Is McMaster Doing Susan Rice’s Bidding?’ After laying out the links between the two, he concluded:
You can often judge motives based on a pattern of actions. You attack your friends and help your enemies. Who your enemies are and who your allies are… are shown by how you treat them.
What’s very clear here is that McMaster is an ally of Susan Rice. And of the Obama holdovers. And an opponent of Trump supporters and anyone attempting to expose the Obama sabotage.
The question is whether President Trump will let McMaster protect those Obama holdovers trying to impeach him while purging those who would protect him.
That is his choice.
The Conservative Treehouse picked up on all these reports and said that McMaster’s position was ‘entirely safe’:
After spending 72 hours looking specifically at the motives of those pushing almost identical paragraphs including the catchphrases: “holdovers”, “purging loyalists“, “unfettered access” and “Caroline Glick“; it comes as no surprise to hear the administration perceives the anti-McMasters crowd as having “jumped the shark”… “reached too far”, and “exposed their agenda” etc.
Ironically HR McMaster appears to be safer than ever in his position as National Security Adviser not specifically because of anything he has done, but as an actual outcome of the piranha approach taken by his detractors …
HR McMaster might not get the Afghanistan policy outcome he prefers, but his position as NSA appears safe; and we won’t have to go to war against Iran to appease his opposition. This looks like a genuine win/win/win. Bannon wins on Afghanistan policy; McMaster wins on Iran policy; America-First wins because we’re not going into another war in either Iran or North Korea. Perfect.
Oddly — although it wasn’t meant to — this sounded identical to a blast from David Brock’s left-wing Media Matters: ‘Fake news purveyors, Twitter trolls and Sean Hannity go all in against national security adviser McMaster’. Media Matters listed every major and independent journalist calling for McMaster’s dismissal.
So, here we have it from two sources, one the right and one the left: How dare anyone complain about HR McMaster! Stop the dissension now!
Oh, the irony.
Blind loyalty is bad.
There was more from The Conservative Treehouse on August 5, ‘Follow Up: Israeli Government Officials Stand Up For HR McMaster’:
Today, the Times of Israel also comes to McMaster’s defense by pointing out that officials within Israel are well aware that HR McMaster supports the pro-Israel viewpoints of the Trump administration …
The last 24 hours of specific push-back from U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli officials confirm our earlier outline.
If you go back and look at the alliance against McMaster you will see the communal ideology carried by all his detractors.
McMaster’s supporters on both sides were no doubt reassured by the interview he gave to Hugh Hewitt that day. He can roleplay well.
A lot of news stories about HR exploded in August 2017, especially during the first half of the month, too many to cover in this post.
Coming soon: Part 3 of the McMaster Chronicles