Tuesday, 17 July, 2018

Senior director Ezra Cohen-Watnick out of National Security Council

WH Says Scaramucci Comments'Inappropriate For a Person in That Position WH Addresses Scaramucci's Departure as Comms Director
Christy Curtis | 04 August, 2017, 01:15

According to Lake, documents showing that Rice made the unmasking requests were uncovered by the NSC's former senior director for intelligence, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who was sacked by McMaster on Wednesday.

President Donald Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, has reportedly concluded that his predecessor, Susan Rice, did nothing wrong when she tried to learn the identities of officials on Trump's transition team who were mentioned in U.S. intelligence reports past year.

It added that McMaster "determined that, at this time, a different set of experiences is best-suited to carrying that work forward".

"Gen. McMaster is confident that Ezra will make many further significant contributions to national security in another position in the administration", the official continued.

The national security adviser had previously attempted to oust Cohen-Watnick earlier this year, as Gray notes, "but was rebuffed by President Trump after White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner intervened to keep" him in his job.

And last week, Derek Harvey, a top Middle East adviser who served as special assistant to the president and senior director for the Middle East on the National Security Council, was also relieved of his duties.

McMaster has apparently found a strong new ally in former Marine Corps General John Kelly, who replaced Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff only after Trump promised him everyone would report through him, according to several media accounts. But the White House officials told Circa that under the current congressional investigation, and given President Trump's ongoing concern that members of his team were unmasked, Rice's clearance should have been limited to congressional testimony only or revoked until the end of the investigation.

Rich Higgins, the reported author of the memo who was serving in the NSC's strategic-planning office, was let go on July 21, the Atlantic reported Wednesday.

The White House confirmed the decision late Wednesday afternoon.

McMaster has been on a firing spree of Bannon loyalists.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster does not believe his predecessor did anything wrong by asking for the names of Americans caught up in surveillance programs to be revealed.

The moves suggest McMaster is succeeding in steering the NSC away from the nationalistic viewpoints of Bannon and Flynn and toward more traditional conservative perspectives.

Earlier this year, Cohen-Watnick came under scrutiny for his alleged roundabout role in providing information to GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, showing members of Trump's team included in foreign surveillance reports collected by U.S. intelligence.

Trump has been considering a new strategy for Afghanistan, but it has become mired in his frustration over the options he has been given. The president has publicly asked why the United States should still be in Afghanistan after almost 16 years.

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