Alt-right’s ‘crazy assault’ on McMaster is Bannon’s revenge for firings of his proteges
In recent weeks, alt-right websites like Breitbart.com have been ablaze with attacks of National Security Adviser to President Donald Trump Gen. H. R. McMaster accusing him of being a “globalist,” an Obama-administration plant and insufficiently loyal to Trump’s “America First” agenda.
According to The Daily Beast, the attacks — which are being generated at alt-right hubs and propagated via Russian Twitter bots and social media platforms — are former Breitbart.com CEO Steve Bannon’s revenge for McMaster’s removal of two Bannon acolytes from their posts in the Trump administration.
The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay, Spencer Ackerman, Asawin Suaebsaeng and Kimberly Dozier spoke with two senior White House officials and other staffers who told them that Bannon and McMaster have had a contentious relationship since McMaster joined the administration. Tensions that had long simmered boiled over, however, when McMaster removed two of Bannon’s proteges from their high-ranking positions.
This week, McMaster removed Ezra Cohen-Watnick and ret. Col. Derek Harvey from the National Security Council. Cohen-Watnick — who is married to a former PR representative for the Russian government — was brought on to the NSC by disgraced former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, who was forced to step down after he was caught lying about his work on behalf of hostile foreign governments.
Harvey served as the NSC’s Mideast director and was a notoriously hawkish advocate for military intervention in Iran. His unauthorized “chats” with Bannon about sensitive national security matters with Bannon were reportedly a thorn in McMaster’s side.
Both men’s firings from the council have been followed by a gush of negative stories at Breitbart.com and from conspiracy-mongering alt-right figures like “Pizzagate” propagator Mike Cernovich.
“Furthermore, there is, according to multiple senior administration sources, no trust whatsoever between the two men. McMaster has long suspected Bannon of covertly engineering an aggressive leak campaign against him in an attempt to caricature him as anti-Israel and weak on terror—suspicions that persist to this day,” the Daily Beast said.
McMaster has been wary of Bannon since he learned that Bannon was circulating an off-the-record list of national security officials he considered “enemies” — mostly composed of people appointed by the previous administration.
Harvey was one of the officials included by Bannon in the group authorized to see the enemies list. McMaster faulted Harvey for attending the meeting with Bannon where the list was discussed, although Harvey reportedly convinced the White House’s alt-right contingent not to act on the list.
McMaster was also reportedly irritated that former Breitbart.com editor and rumored Nazi sympathizer Sebastian Gorka to sit in on confidential Mideast briefings without consulting McMaster.
These issues, coupled with what senior officials characterized as a fractious and difficult relationship with the Pentagon were enough to convince McMaster to show Harvey the door.
Officials told the Daily Beast that Cohen-Watnick is being blamed for “a slew of poisonous leaks about other staff throughout his tenure and since his departure.” He is believed to be behind the leak of a letter signed by McMaster authorizing former Obama aide Susan Rice to keep her security clearance.
These letters are commonplace as officials from previous administrations stay over to brief their successors. Hundreds of such letters are issued in every presidential transition, but the Rice letter was leaked with the express intention of smearing McMaster as a Democratic plant.
Breitbart.com ran with the story and it was disseminated across social media via Russian bots and angry anti-Obama Republicans.
The Daily Beast said, “The McMaster leak is part of a pattern of disclosures that McMaster supporters believe is designed to paint him as a leading obstacle to the Bannon World/American First vision for the White House, with some of the ugliest coverage being levied at him by Bannon’s former publishing concern Breitbart.”
“H.R. is under a crazy assault from social media,” said one of his supporters.