White House pushes back on report of McMaster exit

White House pushes back on report of McMaster exit
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The White House on Thursday pushed back on a new report that national security adviser H.R. McMaster could be replaced as soon as this month, but stopped short of issuing an outright denial.

“We frequently face rumor and innuendo about senior administration officials. There are no personnel announcements at this time,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement.

In a separate statement, a McMaster spokesman said the national security adviser spoke about the report with President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of 'unprecedented steps' to 'spin' Mueller report MORE

“I was just with President Trump and H.R. McMaster in the Oval Office. President Trump said that the NBC News story is ‘fake news,’ and told McMaster that he is doing a great job,” said National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton.

NBC News reported that White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE and Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump learns to love acting officials Shanahan says he's 'never favored' Boeing as acting Defense chief Trump moves to install loyalists MORE are working to replace McMaster, who has frequently found himself at odds with the president.

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The three-star Army general was hired last February to replace Michael Flynn, who resigned after being caught up in the Russia investigation.

McMaster is well-respected by the national security establishment in Washington but has had public disagreements with Trump over issues ranging from Iran to Russia.

The president rebuked his national security adviser last month after McMaster said Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election was “incontrovertible.” 

“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems,” Trump tweeted.

McMaster’s exit would add to the cascade of staff changes at the White House, which has seen a series of departures after his first year.

In just the past 48 hours, the president lost two leading members of his press shop, including longtime adviser Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksInvestigators in Trump hush money probe interviewed Hicks, security chief: report The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — House Dems flex subpoena powers House panel votes to subpoena White House, Trump campaign aides MORE, the White House communications director.

NBC reported that Ford Motor Company executive Stephen Biegun, who served on the National Security Council during the Bush administration, is a leading candidate to replace McMaster. 

A Ford spokesperson told the network that "Steve has no plans to leave Ford."

The latest report comes one week after CNN reported McMaster, who is still on active duty, could be moved to a senior role at the Pentagon.

Updated: 6:10 p.m.