McCain defends McMaster from right-wing media attacks

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is defending national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who has been under withering attack from right-wing media outlets worried that he’s purging conservatives from the National Security Council (NSC).

In a statement, McCain took aim at what he described as “alt-right” news outlets using “smear tactics” against McMaster.

McCain likened McMaster’s critics to the racist protesters that gathered in Virginia over the weekend, calling the right-wing media outlets the “same purveyors of hatred and ignorance who precipitated the recent violence in Charlottesville.” 

“The recent attacks upon him from the so-called ‘alt-right’ are disgraceful,” McCain said. “Since this fringe movement cannot attract the support of decent Americans, it resorts to impugning the character of a good man and outstanding soldier who has served honorably in uniform and sacrificed more for our country than any of his detractors ever have. Such smear tactics should not be tolerated and deserve an emphatic response. I hope the President will once again stand up for his national security adviser and denounce these repugnant attacks.”

Breitbart News, which was once helmed by Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon, has lead the charge on the right to oust McMaster. In recent weeks, Breitbart has run stories about McMaster that have accused him of being hostile to Israel and in cahoots with Democrats.

McMaster has purged the NSC of several Bannon loyalists, and his efforts to “professionalize” the NSC are viewed by many on the right as an affront against Trump’s core base of supporters.

There is deep worry among some pro-Trump activists that the president has surrounded himself with “liberals,” like McMaster, national economic adviser Gary Cohn, and even daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who they worry are winning out over Trump’s longtime loyalists like Bannon and adviser Sebastian Gorka, who once wrote for Breitbart.

In a Monday interview, Tea Party activist Debbie Dooley called McMaster a “rattlesnake” and warned that Trump is risking a “rebellion” among his core supporters if McMaster’s wing wins out over Bannon. 

“We didn’t vote for McMaster and the generals, we voted for Trump because he promised to drain the swamp,” she said. “McMaster is the ultimate swamp dweller.”

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