In a shift seen as a victory for National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, the president removed his chief strategist, former Breitbart publisher Steve Bannon, from the National Security Council principals’ committee. From that powerful post, Bannon wielded substantive influence over critical policy issues, despite his lack of experience and qualifications.
Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, appointed by Trump on Monday, is known for being strongly driven by integrity —a quality that critics felt Mike Flynn lacked. How to approach Russia is likely to be one of the crucial areas where McMaster and Flynn differ.
Two sources familiar with the decision said Admiral Harward turned down the job in part because he wanted to bring in his own team at the National Security Council.
That put him at odds with Trump, who had told former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s deputy, K.T. McFarland, that she could stay.
Top White House officials have been reviewing over the weekend Flynn’s contacts with the Russians and whether he discussed the possibility of lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia once Trump took office, which could potentially be in violation of a law banning private citizens from engaging in foreign policy.
The FBI has been examining Flynn’s contacts with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, according to reports. At issue is whether Flynn tried to undermine the Obama administration’s move to toughen sanctions against Moscow after concluding that Russia had meddled in the U.S. election.
You may have forgotten why President Obama fired Michael Flynn as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. You may not recall the hate messages he promoted on Twitter. But Trevor Noah will remind you.
Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, called Flynn’s presence at classified briefings when he was representing foreign clients “deeply disturbing.”
Flynn’s appearances on Russia’s government-run broadcaster RT, particularly at a gala last year attended by President Vladimir Putin, have also raised eyebrows in military circles.