President Donald Trump’s National Security adviser H.R. McMaster has come under intense scrutiny amid accusations he has been purging Trump’s administration loyalists, and a bombshell new report proves their suspicions correctly.
President Trump met with McMaster Thursday amid numerous reports this week that have raised questions about his loyalty after two bombshell reports were dropped.
One, by Circa, said McMaster allowed Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice in a letter granting her full, unfettered access to classified information, back in April, when she was no longer in a government position.
Worse yet, McMaster made the move without the President’s knowledge despite reports she had unmasked Trump campaign and transition associates.
The other, by Bloomberg, said McMaster has concluded that Rice did nothing wrong in unmasking Trump associates.
Almost one month after it was disclosed that former President Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice was unmasking members of President Trump’s team and other Americans, Trump’s own national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, sent an official letter giving her unfettered and continuing access to classified information and waiving her “need-to-know” requirement on anything she viewed or received during her tenure, Circa has confirmed.
The undated and unclassified letter from McMaster was sent in the mail to Rice’s home during the last week of April. Trump was not aware of the letter or McMaster’s decision, according to two Senior West Wing officials and an intelligence official, who spoke to Circa on condition that they not be named.
This is the letter from McMaster to Rice. Names, phone numbers and personal addresses have been blurred.
“I hereby waive the requirement that you must have a ‘need-to-know’ to access any classified information contained in items you ‘originated, reviewed, signed or received while serving,’ as National Security Adviser,” the letter said. The letter also states that the “NSC will continue to work with you to ensure the appropriate security clearance documentation remains on file to allow you access to classified information.”
Circa revealed in March that during President Obama’s tenure, top aides — including Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch — routinely reviewed intelligence reports received from the National Security Agency’s incidental intercepts of Americans abroad. They were doing so by taking advantage of rules Obama relaxed starting in 2011 to help the government better fight terrorism, espionage by foreign enemies and hacking threats, according to documents obtained by Circa.
McMaster was only brought into Trump’s administration after Mike Flynn was pushed out due to leaks regarding the fake news story of Russian collusion. Rice was one of several people who wanted McMaster to be given her former job, and she celebrated his exit congratulating him on Twitter upon the news.
Hope you will be able to choose your team, have direct reporting and daily access to POTUS, and can eliminate Strategic Initiatives Group. https://t.co/QK6SE0KlY0
— Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) February 21, 2017
Questions of McMaster’s loyalty to Trump are valid based on him backing Rice’s unmasking, and he doesn’t believe she did anything wrong. This comes after he went on a firing spree and started purging the Trump administration of Trump loyalists.
According to Brietbart, the reports came after McMaster purged three National Security Council (NSC) officials who were there before him and are considered loyalists to Trump’s foreign policy agenda. He is reportedly allowing former top Obama officials to come and go as they please and has reportedly banned usage of the phrase “Obama holdover” at the NSC.
This week, McMaster fired Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the NSC’s senior director for intelligence. Last week, he fired Derek Harvey, a key Middle East adviser at the NSC. Two weeks ago, he fired Rich Higgins, the NSC director of strategic planning after he penned a memo warning about globalists and Islamists undermining Trump’s agenda.
All of the turmoil comes as McMaster is pushing a plan to send at least 3,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, which the president has viewed with deep skepticism.
The White House has been infuriated by constant leaks from within the administration and elsewhere in the federal government.
Retired Marine general John Kelly, was brought on board Monday as the new White House chief of staff, to instill military discipline in the operation – and plugging the leaks is among his top priorities.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein held a news conference Friday about ongoing leak investigations, a day after the Washington Post first published with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. ODNI Director Dan Coats and William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center will also join Sessions and Rosenstein.
The investigations into various government leaks have “been in the works for some time,” an official familiar with the matter told CBS News‘ Paula Reid.
Another leak the Justice Department has been probing involves the Manchester terror attack. In May, after a suicide bomber struck a concert venue, photos of the remnants of the bomb and the trigger device were leaked to the New York Times. The episode angered British authorities, since the photos had been shared by British intelligence with U.S. intelligence. At the time, Prime Minister Theresa May personally told Mr. Trump that “intelligence shared must remain secure.”
Director Dan Coats to leakers: “We will find you!”
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats had a clear message for any leakers. Coats even suggested some of the leaks had come from Congress.
“For those out there who may be listening or watching these announcements … if you improperly disclose classified information, we will find you,” Coats said. “We will investigate you. We will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law, and you will not be happy with the result.”
Even critics of President Trump seem to agree: The leakers have gone too far, The Hill reports.
Many in Washington are expressing alarm that the transcripts of Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders were leaked to The Washington Post, warning that the action could undermine the U.S. government and imperil national security.
“This is beyond the pale and will have a chilling effect going forward on the ability of the commander in chief to have candid discussions with his counterparts,” Ned Price, a former National Security Council official under President Barack Obama, told The Hill.
The Post on Thursday printed the entire transcripts of Trump’s private phone calls with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Many in the media and on the left have celebrated the torrent of leaks — some involving classified information — that have bedeviled the Trump administration since taking office.
But Thursday’s revelation went too for some Democrats, who warned that the release of the president’s private conversations with foreign leaders is a bridge too far.
“Leaks of sensitive or classified information damages our national security,” Michael McFaul, who served as Russian ambassador under Obama, told The Hill.
That sentiment was echoed by Obama’s former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor, who took a dig at Trump over Twitter but nonetheless said he’d have been mortified to see such a leak happen to his former boss.
I would've lost my mind if transcripts of Obama's calls to foreign leaders leaked. He wouldn't have sounded so dumb, but it's still absurd.
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) August 3, 2017
Perhaps the most vehement criticism of the transcripts leaking came from David Frum, the former George W. Bush speechwriter who is now the senior editor at The Atlantic.
Frum on Thursday warned that leaking Trump’s private phone calls with foreign leaders is a reckless way to oppose him.
Can anybody remember any previous leak of a literal WH transcript of a call to a foreign leader?
— David Frum (@davidfrum) August 3, 2017
Anybody w access to this transcript also has access to many other secrets. Trusted people are breaking career-long habits to thwart Trump
— David Frum (@davidfrum) August 3, 2017
The Hill reports:
Even before the release of the transcripts, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his top lieutenants had scheduled a press conference for Friday to address their efforts to staunch the flow of leaks from what Trump’s allies refer to as the “deep state.”
Trump is pushing his attorney general to be more aggressive in prosecuting illegal leaks, and Thursday’s revelations could send those efforts into overdrive.
Speculation is running rampant over the origins of the transcripts, with some blaming national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who has become a target on the right for purging the National Security Council of some officials who were viewed as Trump loyalists.
“The only option President Trump has is to clean house at the National Security Council, starting at the top with General McMaster,” Americans for Limited Government president Rick Manning said in a statement. “The threat posed to the country by the National Security Council leaking requires immediate and swift action.”
Still, the origins of the leak are unlikely to be clear-cut, and finding the culprits could prove difficult.
While only a handful of people were present for the actual phone calls, the final transcripts of the calls can run through many different agencies.
The notes were likely taken by a National Security Council official, who then put the conversations into a memorandum of conversation which is then sent through an editing and approval process by senior officials on the NSC.
The memorandum is then logged and registered as the official U.S. record of the meeting and kept on file either at the NSC or State Department.
It can be distributed, sometimes as a hard copy, to relevant officials at the Department of State, Department of Defense, CIA, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and other agencies within the intelligence community.
Those with appropriate clearances can also view the memorandums at the repositories where they’re kept. Along the way, there are scores of opportunities for the classified documents to “jump the gap.”
Bottom line – President Trump needs to drain the Swamp of all loyal Obama layovers and those that are determined to see him fail, even at the expense of national security and the welfare of the American people.