Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster could leave the White House and be replaced as National Security Advisor as early as next month, NBC exclusively reported on Thursday, citing five people “familiar with discussions.”
The move is apparently being “orchestrated” by Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and the top candidate to take the position is Ford Motor Company executive Stephen Biegun, the sources told NBC.
EXCLUSIVE: The White House is preparing to replace H.R. McMaster as national security adviser as early as next month, according to five people familiar with the discussions https://t.co/j6KHEviiba
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) March 1, 2018
The report only adds fuel to the fire about the rumor that McMaster might be fired.
Later in February, it was reported that McMaster might soon be out of his position as National Security Advisor and headed back to the military, according to defense and administration officials, CNN reported at the time.
This rumor comes amidst rising tensions in the White House between McMaster and President Donald Trump. According to half a dozen defense and administration officials, the Pentagon is looking at the possibility of allowing the President to potentially move the three-star general from his current role in the administration into a four-star military role, CNN reported.
Things seemed to have flared up between the two over the weekend after Trump publicly criticized McMaster over the remarks he made regarding alleged Russian election meddling.
“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H [Hillary Clinton], the DNC [Democratic National Committee] and the Dems,” Trump tweeted. “Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the [former White House Chief of Staff John] Podesta Company!”
The two men have allegedly never gotten along, but the issues are apparently not political. McMaster and Mattis tend to discuss information before it’s presented to the President, a senior Republic source has said, CNN reported.
The task of transitioning McMaster out of his National Security Advisor position presents a unique challenge for the White House. However, with at least 10 top administration officials having already changed positions or been completely removed from Trump’s team over the last year, this would not be something new for the White House to work through.
With McMaster’s long-standing military career, it makes sense to seek a high position within the Army or Defense Department. Administration officials expressed their desire for his new position to be viewed as a promotion. Still, some Pentagon officials are concerned that McMaster has become too politicized during his stint in the West Wing and were hesitant about him returning to a prominent military role, CNN reported. Instead, there is some speculation that Trump might force him to retire.
This is not the first time McMaster’s job has been in jeopardy. Last fall, White House officials seemed to be looking to replace him, although he ultimately survived on the grounds that appointing a third national security advisor in less than a year would be another huge stain for Trump and his team.