UPDATE: White House denies dismissal
Just spoke to @POTUS and Gen. H.R. McMaster - contrary to reports they have a good working relationship and there are no changes at the NSC.— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) March 16, 2018
President Donald J. Trump has reportedly decided to get rid of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and others may follow in what’s turning into a massive spring-cleaning of his administration. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has already been served his pink slip. Economic adviser Gary Cohn has tendered his resignation as well. Yet, this will not be a rapid firing concerning McMaster, as The Washington Post wrote that Trump a) wants a strong successor to be chosen; and b) he doesn’t want to humiliate the former general:
Confirmed: Trump has told Kelly he has decided to oust McMaster, administration officials tell me + @MichaelCBender. Trump doesn’t yet have a replacement in mind and wants a more graceful exit for McMaster than he afforded Tillerson, whom he fired via tweet.— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) March 16, 2018
President Trump has decided to remove HR McMaster as national security adviser, but doesn't have a replacement yet, administration officials tell @rebeccaballhaus & me. Story soon on @WSJ. White House is not pushing back on anything in the @washingtonpost scoop tonight.— Michael C. Bender (@MichaelCBender) March 16, 2018
President Trump has decided to remove H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser and is actively discussing potential replacements, according to five people with knowledge of the plans, preparing to deliver yet another jolt to the senior ranks of his administration.
Trump is now comfortable with ousting McMaster, with whom he never personally gelled, but is willing to take time executing the move because he wants to ensure both that the three-star Army general is not humiliated and that there is a strong successor lined up, these people said.
The turbulence is part of a broader potential shake-up under consideration by Trump that is likely to include senior officials at the White House, where staffers are gripped by fear and uncertainty as they await the next move from an impulsive president who enjoys stoking conflict.
For all of the evident disorder, Trump feels emboldened, advisers said — buoyed by what he views as triumphant decisions last week to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum and to agree to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The president is enjoying the process of assessing his team and making changes, tightening his inner circle to those he considers survivors and who respect his unconventional style, one senior White House official said.
McMaster is not the only senior official on thin ice with the president. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has attracted Trump’s ire for his spending decisions as well as for general disorder in the senior leadership of his agency.
Others considered at risk for being fired or reprimanded include Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who has generated bad headlines for ordering a $31,000 dining room set for his office; Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who has been under fire for his first-class travel at taxpayer expense; and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, whose agency spent $139,000 to renovate his office doors.
Katie wrote this week that sources told her that Trump wants Pete Hegseth to head up Veterans Affairs if Shulkin is dismissed. Former Texas governor and Energy Secretary Rick Perry has also been rumored to be a replacement as well, though he said he’s not leaving his current post.
"The president knows I like where I am. He knows that we have done a really good job of keeping this agency focused, particularly in those areas he is interested in: selling American, running an agency effectively,” Perry said to The Washington Examiner.