Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Trump chooses McMaster as national security adviser

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump picked Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a widely respected military strategist, as his new national security adviser Monday, calling him "a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience."

Trump made the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago getaway in Palm Beach, where he has been interviewing candidates to replace Michael T. Flynn, who was forced out after withholding information from Vice President Mike Pence about calling Russia's ambassador.

The choice continued Trump's reliance on high-ranking military officers to advise him on national security. Flynn was a retired three-star general, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is a retired four-star general. His first choice to replace Flynn, who turned the job down, and two other finalists were current or former senior officers, as well.

Shortly before announcing his appointment, Trump wrote on Twitter: "Meeting with Generals at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. Very interesting!"

McMaster is seen as one of the Army's leading intellectuals, first making a name for himself with a searing critique of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their performance during the Vietnam War and later criticizing the way President George W. Bush's administration went to war in Iraq.

As a commander, he was credited with demonstrating how a different counterterrorism strategy could defeat insurgents in Iraq, providing the basis for the change in approach that Gen. David H. Petraeus adopted to shift momentum in a war that the United States was on the verge of losing.

McMaster's challenge now will be to take over a rattled and demoralized National Security Council apparatus that bristled at Flynn's leadership and remains uncertain about its place in the White House given the foreign policy interests of Stephen Bannon, the former Breitbart News chairman who is the president's chief strategist.

Most of the NSC staff is composed of career professionals, often on loan from the military or civilian agencies, and they have privately complained about being shut out of their areas of expertise and kept in the dark about important decisions. For their part, Trump's aides look on many of those holdovers from the last administration with suspicion, blaming them for leaks. The atmosphere has grown so toxic that some NSC staff members fear they are being surveilled.

In addition to reassuring and reassembling the staff, McMaster will have to figure out his own role in the month-old administration. Other candidates for the job reportedly harbored concern about how much authority they would have, although the White House has said whoever had the job would have the right to choose his or her own staff.

Trump announced that Keith Kellogg, another retired lieutenant general, will remain as the NSC chief of staff. Kellogg has been acting national security adviser since Flynn's resignation a week ago and was one of the four candidates interviewed by Trump on Sunday for the permanent job. Trump made no mention of K.T. MacFarland, the top deputy national security adviser, and whether she would stay.

Trump praised McMaster in a brief appearance before reporters Monday.

"I watched and read a lot over the last two days," he said. "He is highly respected by everyone in the military and we're very honored to have him."

McMaster, wearing his uniform, responded in kind. "I'm grateful to you for that opportunity," he said, "and I look forward to joining the national security team and doing everything that I can to advance and protect the interests of the American people."

The other two candidates interviewed Sunday were John R. Bolton, a former ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, and Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

This was the second time Bolton, an outspoken conservative skeptic of international organizations and treaties, has been considered and rejected for a high-level post in Trump's administration. Trump made a point Monday of praising Bolton and saying that he would find a position for him in his administration eventually.

"We had some really good meetings with him. Knows a lot. He had a good number of ideas that I must tell you I agree very much with," the president said. "So we'll be talking with John Bolton in a different capacity."

He made no specific mention of Caslen, but added that "we'll be talking to some of the other generals that I've met."

H.R. McMaster

Full Name: Herbert Raymond "H.R." McMaster

Born: 1962 (age 54) in Philadelphia

Current position: Lieutenant general in the U.S. Army and director, Army Capabilities Integration Center, and deputy commanding general, futures, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command

Known for: His roles in the Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as writing the book Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam, which was written as part of his Ph.D. dissertation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Trump chooses McMaster as national security adviser 02/20/17 [Last modified: Monday, February 20, 2017 9:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Heights Public Market to host two Tampa Bay food trucks

    Business

    TAMPA — The Heights Public Market announced the first two food trucks for its "rotating stall," which will feature new restaurants every four months. Surf and Turf and Empamamas will be rolled out first.

    Heights Public Market is opening this summer inside the Tampa Armature Works building.
[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times file photo]

  2. Mariners lose lefty Drew Smyly to Tommy John surgery

    Ml

    SEATTLE — Drew Smyly was the centerpiece to one of Seattle's many offseason moves by general manager Jerry Dipoto. He was a priority acquisition as a proven lefty for the rotation the Mariners believed would thrive pitching at Safeco Field.

    Drew Smyly will undergo Tommy John surgery after being diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament. Seattle announced the diagnosis on Wednesday, ending Smyly's hopes of returning during the 2017 season. [AP photo]
  3. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  4. Busted: How a Times photographer captured Donald Trump's fake news

    Blogs

    Tampa Bay Times photojournalist Scott Keeler was on assignment last summer for a story about Donald Trump’s presence in Palm Beach, a tale of glamour and conflict. Along the way he inadvertently captured evidence of a …

    Near the main entrance at Mar-a-Lago, the fake Time magazine cover is on display in July 2016.
  5. Jones: Steve Yzerman's plan for getting the Lightning back into the playoffs

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — Seems like forever since the Lightning played a hockey game.

    If the Lightning season started right now, would Steve Yzerman be happy with what he has? "We're still a couple of players short,'' Yzerman said.. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]