According to military friends and former colleagues of Gen. H.R. McMaster, President Donald Trump only has his position in Trump’s administration because the three-star general makes Trump look good to the establishment. The former military officers are concerned Trump is “tarnishing” the military’s reputation.
Over the course of the last week, McMaster has been used like a three-star shield by the White House, which has deployed him as a bona fide spokesperson in the wake of developments into the Russia investigation. Specifically, McMaster was rolled out to justify son-in-law Jared Kushner’s request for back-channel communication with Russians. Fellow military professionals disagree that it wasn’t a big deal, however, and told the Daily Beast Kusnher’s actions went “far beyond” what should be “discreet diplomacy”
“It makes me uncomfortable that a serving military officer is in that role,” said a retired senior military officer and friend of McMaster told the Daily Beast. “The credibility he has is precisely why they are using him as a spokesman. I think that’s unfortunate.”
“H.R. is being used here,” another former military adviser said. “If he didn’t have three stars on his shoulder, he’d be useless to them. It’s the worst of all outcomes for him. He’s got this miserable interagency process and then gets trotted out to defend the most inane and corrupting things.”
They would all like to see the general retire from the Army so that the blowback from the administration won’t be heaped onto the military branches.
“He has to retire,” said one officer who served overseas with McMaster. “Being the national security adviser that this president requires—given the random things Trump’s going to say that he has to defend—he can’t do that in uniform.”
Retired Adm. Michael Mullen explained that it is something that all military grapples with when they join the White House. As a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he revealed that he was “pushed to the edge” of who he was.
“Inside the White House, it’s politics all the time,” he said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “What are my limits here? When am I going to say no, meaning I’m not here anymore?”
McMaster doesn’t seem to have been pushed to his limit just yet.