Report: Mattis had to intervene in dispute between McMaster and Bannon
Defense Secretary James Mattis had to intervene in dispute between national security adviser H.R. McMaster and White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon last month during a policy meeting on Afghanistan, Politico reported Thursday.
The animosity between McMaster and Bannon is nothing new. The two men have been at loggerheads since McMaster was named President Trump’s national security adviser in April.
McMaster removed Bannon from the National Security Council’s Principals Committee shortly after he was appointed.
According to the Politico report, McMaster is said to believe that Bannon, former executive chair of the far-right Breitbart News, is behind negative leaks about him.
McMaster’s relationship with Trump is said to be tenuous, though the president plans on keeping him in his NSC role, at least for the time being.
Despite his reportedly uneasy relationships with Trump and Bannon, McMaster has gained an ally in John Kelly, the former Homeland Security secretary who was named White House chief of staff last week.
Kelly has reportedly told McMaster that he wants him to stay on board as national security adviser and authorized him to make any staffing changes he wants.
According to Politico, that sentiment was put to the test this week when McMaster fired Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a top White House intelligence aide who had been hired by McMaster’s predecessor, Michael Flynn.
McMaster is said to have been eying Cohen-Watnick’s removal for some time, though Politico noted that Kelly’s appointment did not prompt the decision.