The right-wing media ecosystem kicked into hyperdrive on Thursday declaring war on President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.
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.
Higgins, a director for strategic planning in the NSC’s strategic-planning office, was fired last month after he penned a memo warning of globalists, leftists and Islamists working on a “Maoist insurgency” to undermine the Trump administration, according to Rosie Gray.
That was followed by the ouster of two top-level officials originally brought on by Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser: Ezra Cohen-Watnick, senior director for intelligence programs and Derek Harvey, senior director for the Middle East.
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”.
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.
But now, following the appointment of John Kelly to chief of staff, it appears McMaster has been given free rein to clean house at the NSC. Glenn Thrush of The New York Times reported on Thursday that Kelly backed the firing of Cohen-Watnick, signaling that McMaster is in charge of the council:
Sources: Kelly backed firing of Kushner ally Ezra Cohen-Watnick to make it clear HR McMaster, not Jared/Bannon, has control of NSC hiring.
— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) August 3, 2017
But the NSC purge has not gone down smooth with the right-wing media, which has been tarring McMaster since news of the firings broke.
Breitbart, for which Bannon once served as executive chair, went to town on McMaster Thursday. Six of its 10 most popular stories were about the general, including one widely-shared story aggregating a Jerusalem Post column accusing McMaster of purging the NSC of its pro-Israel staff — as the latest evidence McMaster is “deeply hostile to Israel and to Trump.”
On the alt-right side of things, Mike Cernovich has led a steady drumbeat against McMaster, creating the hashtag #McMasterFacts, along with an accompanying website criticizing the national security adviser. He also claimed on Twitter that supporters plan to bring “Fire McMaster” signs to Trump’s Thursday night rally:
Reports – People plan to bring “Fire McMaster” signs to tonight’s Trump rally in West Virginia.
— Mike Cernovich 🇺🇸 (@Cernovich) August 3, 2017
Fox News’s Sean Hannity, never far behind the alt-right’s talking points, also joined in, asking on Twitter “Does McMaster need to go”:
What is this? Does H.R. McMaster need to go? Susan Rice? Omg https://t.co/yvw9thaiah
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) August 3, 2017
The right’s disdain for McMaster was only compounded on Thursday afternoon with the release of two reports: one, from Bloomberg’s Eli Lake, reported McMaster does not believe Obama national security adviser Susan Rice did anything wrong when she requested the unmasking of Trump campaign staffers.
The other, reported by Circa’s Sara A. Carter, revealed McMaster sent a letter to Rice allowing her to keep her top-secret security clearance — causing a firestorm of outrage on the right — though many have noted it is routine for former NSA’s to keep their clearance.
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