A former National Security Council official who was among those purged from the forum by National-Security Adviser H.R. McMaster will join the House Intelligence Committee staff, the Atlantic reports.
Derek Harvey, who was brought to the NSC by former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, was booted from the council over the summer. Now, he will join the staff of the House Intelligence committee, chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).
Nunes “recused” himself from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election amid concerns of conflicts of interest, but continues to spearhead a separate investigation into the “unmasking” of Donald Trump campaign officials by Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
Nunes’ “unmasking” investigation has garnered criticism from even members of his own party, including Senate intelligence committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC), who in July insisted, “the unmasking thing was all created by Devin Nunes,” an ardent supporter of Trump’s campaign.
As the Atlantic reports, Harvey was one of the more hawkish members of the NSC before his ouster this summer. He was dismissed as part of a purge by McMaster that included Rich Higgins, the former director for strategic planning, who crafted a controversial memo alleging sustained attacks by the “deep state” and Islamic sympathizers working to undermine Trump’s presidency.
Former senior director for intelligence, Ezra Cohen-Watnick—another Flynn loyalist—was likewise dismissed by McMaster this summer. Cohen-Watnick was one of the NSC officials who attended a clandestine meeting with Nunes on White House grounds in July to provide “evidence” of nefarious unmasking by the Obama administration.
That meeting resulted in a hastily-arranged press conference where Nunes insisted he would get to the bottom of Obama-era unmasking—a press conference Trump insisted “somewhat vindicated” his unsubstantiated claim that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential election. McMaster originally tried to fire Cohen-Watnick after taking over the NSC, but the “Flynnstone” successfully appealed to former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon and top Trump adviser Jared Kushner to save his job.
In a July statement about Harvey’s dismissal, NSC spokesman Michael Anton hinted the Flynn loyalist would stay in the Trump administration.
“General McMaster greatly appreciates Derek Harvey’s service to his country as a career Army officer, where he served his country bravely in the field and played a crucial role in the successful surge in Iraq, and also for his service on Capitol Hill and in the Trump administration,” Anton said. “The administration is working with Colonel Harvey to identify positions in which his background and expertise can be best utilized.”
That position, it appears, is as a staff member on the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. That’s some revolving door.