President Trump with Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, his new national security adviser, last month. General McMaster is shifting the National Security Council’s focus from military operations and tactics to strategic issues. Credit Al Drago/The New York Times
Eli Lake, Bloomberg: Washington Loves General McMaster, But Trump Doesn't
The national security adviser has lost sway. The White House says everything's fine.
For the Washington establishment, President Donald Trump's decision to make General H.R. McMaster his national security adviser in February was a masterstroke. Here is a well-respected defense intellectual, praised by both parties, lending a steady hand to a chaotic White House. The grown-ups are back.
But inside the White House, the McMaster pick has not gone over well with the one man who matters most. White House officials tell me Trump himself has clashed with McMaster in front of his staff.
On policy, the faction of the White House loyal to senior strategist Steve Bannon is convinced McMaster is trying to trick the president into the kind of nation building that Trump campaigned against. Meanwhile the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, is blocking McMaster on a key appointment.
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WNU Editor: General H.R. McMaster was not President Trump's first choice for national security adviser .... nor was he his second. When the announcement was made that he was to become President Trump's national security adviser .... I felt the decision was made too quickly, and that it was done more to placate those who felt that President Trump was too slow in selecting key people for his administration. When the story from the Wall Street Journal broke out that McMaster had called his South Korean counterpart to assure him that the president's threat to make that country pay for a new missile defense system was not official policy .... I was surprised. Even I know why President Trump said that .... he wants to position the U.S. to negotiate a better deal in the future .... but apparently Gen. H. R. McMaster saw it differently. My prediction .... if they do not get on the same page in the coming months .... the days of Gen. H. R. McMaster being President Trump's National Security adviser are going to be brief.