Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council who provided information to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) about “unmasking” during the Barack Obama administration, has been removed from the NSC, the Conservative Review reports.
The news follows reports another top NSC official was removed last month after writing a memo that listed bankers, “the deep state,” and globalists as the biggest threats to Donald Trump.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster dismissed Cohen-Watnick after repeated attempts to sideline him from the NSC, but Watnick—“a 30-year-old version of [former National Security Adviser] Michael Flynn” who belonged to a “clique” of NSC staffers referred to as the “Flynnstones”—appealed to chief White House strategist Steve Bannon and top Trump adviser Jared Kushner to remain on the job.
Watnick “[made] sure they carry out the president’s agenda” on the NSC, a former White House National Security Council official told Newsweek.
Following Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 election, Nunes met with Cohen-Watnick and two other officials on White House grounds to obtain information about the “unmasking” of members of the Trump team. The following day, the California Republican held a hastily-arranged press conference to insist he would conduct an investigation into the prior administration’s actions. Trump would later say he felt “somewhat vindicated” by Nunes’ announcement.
Last month, Senate intelligence committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) told CNN the unmasking claims were “created by Devin Nunes.”
UPDATE 5:41 pm:
The White House on Wednesday issued the following statement, suggesting Erza Cohen-Watnick will remain at the White House in an unspecified capacity:
White House: Ezra Cohen “has left the National Security Council.” pic.twitter.com/da9GP91Wvg
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) August 2, 2017