Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council, has been fired. He is the third Flynn/Trump loyalist fired in a week, following the dismissal of Rich Higgins and Col. Harvey.
The White House confirmed in a statement that Cohen-Watnick has left the NSC:
General McMaster appreciates the good work accomplished in the NSC’s Intelligence directorate under Ezra Cohen’s leadership. He has determined that, at this time, a different set of experiences is best-suited to carrying that work forward. General McMaster is confident that Ezra will make many further significant contributions to national security in another position in the administration.
Cohen-Watnick, 31, is one of General Flynn’s appointees who are being systematically wiped out, Politico reports.
Fired on the second attempt
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster tried to fire Cohen-Watnick before but President Trump, Steve Bannon, and Jared Kushner stepped in and stopped it. Here it is a short time later, and he’s gone.
Cohen-Watnick is another of the alleged “Iran hawks” who wanted a different approach to countering Iran’s growing hegemony and he wanted to pull back the deep state or whatever you want to call the leakers/establishment who are making it impossible for the President to function.
In late March, he was identified as one of two White House officials who had helped provide the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, with intelligence reports indicating that former national security adviser Susan Rice had “unmasked” the identities of several Trump associates contained in classified documents about Russian government efforts to steal the emails of leading Democratic Party officials.
The NY Times credited themselves with finding the leaker after holdovers from the Obama administration gave them the information that Cohen-Watnick is the only one who could have shared the information with Nunes. It came after the infamous Evelyn Farkus testimony.
Farkus was a low-level defense official, appointed by Obama, now working for a big Hillary donor, who admitted the Obama administration was spying and leaking in an on-air interview with Andrea Mitchell. She later retraced her statement.
Cohen-Watnick is the latest Trump loyalist to be fired by Gen. McMaster, whose security council continues to be overwhelmingly staffed with Obama holdovers (almost all of whom have retained their positions).
Reports coming from the NSC indicate Cohen-Watnick was looking for another position in the White House and was being helped by Dina Powell and Jared Kushner. Politico further reports that McMaster, who is said to have a fierce temper, was angered recently by a headline reading, The Man McMaster Couldn’t Fire.
Cohen-Watnick’s removal took place as General Kelly took over as Chief-of-Staff. Kelly is allowing McMaster to take control.
Politico reported: Kelly told McMaster this week that he wanted him to remain as national security adviser, said two senior White House aides, and has encouraged him to make any staffing changes he deems necessary. McMaster took that as a green light this week to oust top intelligence aide Ezra Cohen-Watnick — a Michael Flynn hire who has a warm relationship with Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law — after months of trying.
Under McMaster, the National Security Council has leaked classified information at an unprecedented rate.
McMaster has refused to fire the Obama holdovers in the past and wants his own appointees.
Now-fired Middle East NSC director Derek Harvey compiled a list of Obama holdovers and took that list directly to the president, who requested that McMaster follow through with Harvey’s recommendations. McMaster outright refused.
At a town hall for National Security Council staffers in July, their boss, H.R. McMaster, told those assembled. “There’s no such thing as a holdover,” the national security adviser said, referring to the career professionals who stayed on the council after the presidential transition in January. McMaster went on to say that career staffers are loyal to the president.
He was responding to tweets by blogger Mike Cernovich who posted a list of people Bloomberg News called low-level appointees and who Cernovich said are leaking. They are all Obama holdovers.
McMaster has allegedly had problems putting in new staff because President Trump is slowing the process by looking for loyalists. However, he’s not helping himself by only firing Trumpists. No matter how you look at it, Ben Rhodes/Obama appointees are still in their positions and Trumpists are being fired.
Additionally, top Obama officials continue to come and go in and out of the White House compound as they please. One prominent official, Robert Malley (Obama’s “ISIS czar”), has continued to brief National Security Council staff.
Politico reports that McMaster has erased at least six Flynn appointees, does not have a relationship with Trump, but has nonetheless taken control of the NSC.