U.S. President Donald Trump sought to shield his National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster against conservative media strikes which have resulted in speculation the Army general’s job was on the line.
Trump, in a White House statement issued Friday night, attempted to blunt some thought that McMaster had lost favor with the president and was on his way outside.
“General McMaster and I are working really well together,” Trump said. “He is a good man and very pro-Israel. I’m grateful for the work he proceeds to perform serving our country.”
The announcement came as it seems that McMaster has been given greater power to form the National Security Council under the installation of Trump’s new Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general who formally started in the job on July 31.
Conservatives loyal to Trump’s first national security advisor Michael Flynn — that was fired for lying about his interview with Russians during last year’s election — have chastised McMaster for shouldering aside some of Flynn’s hand-picked deputies and for assuming more conventional foreign policy positions.
On Wednesday, the White House said an NSC staff member caught up in a controversy over the release of intelligence material to a member of Congress is leaving his job. McMaster had previously sought to eliminate Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a Flynn ally who headed the NSC’s intelligence directorate, but had been obstructed by other senior advisers to Trump, largely chief strategist and former Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon.
White House officials stated that Jared Kushner, the president’s son in law enforcement and senior advisor who has worked closely on Mideast peace efforts, is standing with McMaster.
Kushner informed the New York Times he sees McMaster as a “tremendous asset” that has helped to ensure the president gets “credible options” on foreign policy.