The Trump administration’s decision to remove its chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, from the National Security Council’s principals committee, along with the deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland’s likely exile to Singapore, as the United States ambassador, seems to indicate that Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, is finally getting a little hard-earned bureaucratic traction.
Not so fast: Other signals suggest that President Trump’s national security team remains as weak and dysfunctional as ever. And while some people are crediting General McMaster with a big win, the reality is much different.
Reportedly from the moment he hired General McMaster, President Trump gave him broad staffing freedom. Yet Ms. McFarland, whom General McMaster wanted out, remained in place for well over a month. More egregiously, in mid-March, General McMaster tried to fire Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence programs at the National Security Council. Mr. Cohen-Watnick, a holdover from Michael Flynn’s aborted stint as national security adviser, complained to Mr. Bannon and Jared Kushner, who prevailed on Mr. Trump to have him reinstated.
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