McMaster pushes Cohen-Watnick, Iran hard-liner, out at NSC

White House national security advisor H.R. Mc Master speaks to reporters in the White House briefing room in Washington U.S

Top Trump advisers Steven Bannon and Jared Kushner have reportedly protected Cohen-Watnick so far. But Kushner dropped his opposition this week, according to someone with knowledge of the decision. The White House did not respond to request for comment, but senior West Wing officials told Circa that Trump did not know about the letter. The briefing was meant to bolster Trump's unsubstantiated claim that President Barack Obama ordered phones tapped at Trump Tower.

Unlike other White House officials who have become public figures in their own right, Cohen-Watnick never speaks for himself publicly, leaving others to fill the void.

Bloomberg's Eli Lake cited two USA intelligence officials as saying McMaster has reached that conclusion regarding Susan Rice, who worked in the Obama White House. McMaster "has determined that, at this time, a different set of experiences is best-suited to carrying that work forward".

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All three officials were reportedly members of the more nationalist-minded faction of Trump's administration, aligned with White House officials like Flynn and chief strategist Steve Bannon, who often butted heads with more establishment officials like McMaster - a clash The Weekly Standard described Wednesday night as the "McMaster-Bannon War".

His departure follows several others last month. Last week, McMaster removed Derek Harvey, the top Middle East adviser on the NSC, from his post. (This was before the arrival of Kelly as chief of staff.) Higgins, a former Pentagon aide, wrote and circulated a memo charging the "deep state", "globalists", and "bankers" with aligning with "Islamists" against the Trump administration. McMaster has cleared her of the charges leveled against her this spring by members of the Trump administration, along with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) in what was a transparent effort to confuse the public about the nature of the probe into the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russian Federation during last year's election.

The latest moves come at a time of heightened unease in the world, punctuated by North Korea's recent intercontinental ballistic missile test, and continued uncertainty about the leadership and direction of the council, which was created to provide presidents with in-house guidance on foreign and military affairs.

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In a June tweet, Trump called the revelation that Rice and other Obama senior officials were unmasking members of his team the "big story... the "unmasking and surveillance" that took place during the Obama administration".

The siege against the general comes in response to McMaster's clean-up of the National Security Council, which has been detailed in reports this week, and started with news of the firing of Rich Higgins.

News reported on Wednesday that the president recently suggested that Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., the commander of American-led forces in Afghanistan, be fired.

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