Speculation over how long National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster can last in the job is ramping up after President Donald Trump corrected him on Twitter during the weekend.
McMaster spoke at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, an annual global gathering of security leaders and experts in Munich, Germany.
During the Q and A portion of McMaster’s remarks, a Russian cybersecurity expert asked whether it was possible for the U.S. and Russia to have a bilateral security dialogue.
McMaster issued a lengthy rebuke to the Russian, first joking that he was surprised there was a cybersecurity expert there, given how active they have been.
“I would just say that we would love to have a cyber dialogue when Russia is sincere about curtailing its sophisticated form of espionage, what you might call this modern day sort of form of Maskirovka (Russian military deception), enabled by modern technology,” he said.
He warned that the U.S. was becoming more adept at tracing the origins of cyber espionage and subversion.
“As you can see with the FBI indictment the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain,” he added. He continued:
Whereas in the past it was difficult to attribute for a couple of reason. First, technically it was difficult. But then also, you didn’t want to divulge your intelligence capabilities. But now that this is in the arena of a law enforcement investigation, it’s going to be very apparent to everyone.
McMaster then asserted that the Russian influence operations was not working to polarize American society and just appealing to the “big fringes” while uniting the rest behind Russia sanctions:
But the second reason is why I think Russia may re-evaluate what it’s been doing is because it’s just not working. So what’s happened is in this effort to polarize our societies, to support rightist groups, I mean, even the most extreme form of fascist groups and then groups on the left in an attempt to pit Western societies against each other, all that has done is appeal to those big fringes while uniting all of our polities actually against Russia and Russian interference.
And so as you know, you might have heard in the United States it’s pretty difficult to pass bipartisan legislation these days for example across our parties, it is, it is pretty difficult. Except in one case, which is sanctions against Russia where the vote was 98-2. That was made possible mainly by Russia itself and Russian themselves in engaging in this campaign of political subversion.
Trump critics, journalists, and pundits pitted McMaster’s comments against the president, arguing that if McMaster could call out the Russians, then the president should be able to also.
Three hours after McMaster made those comments, Trump seemed to correct his national security adviser.
“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!
General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018
White House National Security Council Spokesman Michael Anton did not respond to a request from Breitbart News on how Trump’s tweet should be interpreted.
On Friday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued an indictment to 13 Russians and three Russian entities that described an elaborate plot beginning in 2014 to foment political division in the U.S.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement about the indictments that there was no allegation in the indictment that “there is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”