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MCMASTER NEXT ON THE CHOP

Issued: 2018-03-16

President Donald Trump has decided to remove White House national security advisor H.R. McMaster from the administration, The Washington Post said on Thursday — though the White House subsequently denied there are changes coming to the National Security Council.

The Post said the president is "now comfortable" removing McMaster, but that he's taking his time on an announcement because he doesn't want to embarrass the former Army lieutenant general, and he wants a smooth transition.

The Post cited five sources with knowledge of the president's plans. The Wall Street Journal subsequently confirmed the report, adding that timing of the move is unclear but could be months away.

If that decision is made official, McMaster would become second national security advisor to leave the job since Trump took office last year. He has had the task of advising a president who often tweets unfiltered thoughts about delicate national security situations such as North Korea's weapons program and the Iran nuclear deal.

The Trump administration pushed back on reports of an imminent departure. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Twitter late Thursday that the president has a "good working relationship" with his national security advisor, and "there are no changes" at the National Security Council.

McMaster's departure would remove a knowledgeable foreign policy voice from a Trump inner circle that lacks many officials experienced in national security. Since taking the position, McMaster has faced criticism from some Trump supporters who have attacked him as a "globalist."

McMaster drew Trump's ire last month by saying the evidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election is "incontrovertible," following more than a dozen indictments from special counsel Robert Mueller's office. Trump lashed out at McMaster in a late-night Twitter post last month.

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