The Washington Post reported Thursday that President Donald Trump has decided to replace H.R. McMaster as national security advisor, something the White House denies.
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.
Late Thursday evening, the White House answered the Post story with what else … a tweet.
“Just spoke to @ and Gen. H.R. McMaster – contrary to reports they have a good working relationship and there are no changes at the NSC,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders posted on Twitter.
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.
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) March 16, 2018
Weighing past missteps by the Post and other media outlets predicting all matters of things that never proved true about the White House, I was skeptical. Seeing Sanders’ tweet, I immediately thought, “of course that’s what they say.” But … is it?
The Main Street View
When older stories broke about members of the administration leaving or being thrown out, the White House line was always something like, “if he didn’t have the president’s confidence, you’d know it.” Sander’s Thursday night message looks more carefully crafted, more thought about – much more cleanly done. But, why?
McMaster is a 3-star Lieutenant General and Trump has no intention of dishonoring him just because they didn’t see eye-to-eye on Russia. If the president is looking to replace him, he will likely offer him a command and his fourth star. He will also have to find a capable replacement. To do all of this in a way that pays McMaster the respect he deserves, many things must be set in motion – things that require time.
I believe that a transition plan to replace McMaster is in the works, but it will be an orderly, honorable exit for the distinguished military leader.