Longstanding tensions within the Oval Office have reportedly reached a breaking point, as friction between President Trump and two top advisers may soon result in yet another split within the White House. Both National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Chief of Staff John Kelly, both military men, are reportedly close to quitting or being fired - depending on whether you're reading CNN or Reuters.
The two are reportedly livid over Trump's treatment of them in public and private - as well as efforts by Trump and his associates to circumvent security measures designed to keep uncleared individuals from accessing classified information, such as Presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner - who enjoys reading the president's daily intelligence briefing.
“There have been running battles between Trump and his generals,” said one of the officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Kelly is a retired Marine general and McMaster an Army lieutenant general.
“But the clearance business is personal, and if Trump sets special rules for family members, I‘m not sure if Kelly and McMaster would salute,” the official said. -Reuters
And while Kelly wrestles with security clearances and reigning in President Trump's habit of tweeting his stream of consciousness, H.R. McMaster and Trump have their own unique difficulties which have reportedly come to a head.
According to "half a dozen defense and administration officials," the Pentagon has been quietly considering options that would allow Trump to boot McMaster - the three-star general, out of his current role and back into the military.
While administration officials have privately said the preference is to move McMaster into a position within the Army or Defense Department that qualifies as a promotion, some within the Pentagon feel he has become politicized in the White House and have expressed reservations about him returning to the military in a prominent role. Some defense officials caution that the President could also go as far as not to offer him a fourth star and force him to retire. -CNN
Five days ago Trump lashed out at McMaster over Twitter, after the National Security Advisor told an international audience at the Munich Security Conference that Russian interference in the US election is "now incontrovertible" following Special Counsel Robert Mueller's indictments of 13 Russian nationals - while failing to mention that "the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians," as told by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein," adding "the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!"
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. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018
This isn't the first time McMaster's neck has reportedly been on the chopping block, as West Wing rumors swirled over his departure last fall.
In January, McMaster quashed rumors of his departure, telling reporters "I have a job and it is my intention to go as long and hard as I can in service of the President of the nation," adding that it was "a tremendous honor to do this job every day."
Trump's first National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, resigned shortly after taking office amid a controversy over whether he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
On Thursday, the Pentagon directed all inquiries about McMaster to the White House. "General McMaster works for President Trump. Any decision with regards to staff, the White House will make those determinations," said chief spokesperson Dana White. Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters on Tuesday that Trump "still has confidence in General McMaster."
A Source within the White House, leaking to CNN, reports that Trump can't stand McMaster's demeanor during briefings - and that the President considers his National Security Advisor to be "gruff and condescending."
He prefers the briefing style of someone like CIA Director Mike Pompeo or Defense Secretary James Mattis, who patiently answer his questions, regardless of the premise. McMaster, meanwhile, is the person who delivers the news that Trump doesn't want to hear on a daily basis, according to the senior Republican source.
The issue is not political but mostly stylistic, as McMaster and Mattis tend to discuss information before it is presented to the President, the same source added. -CNN
Kelly and McMaster both declined to comment, however Reuters' sources were quick to add that "tensions could blow over, at least for now, as have previous episodes of discord between the president and other top officials who have fallen out of favor."