National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on Sunday did not rule out removing more people from the National Security Council (NSC) if they come in with their own “narrow agendas.”
McMaster spoke with NBC News’ Chuck Todd, who asked him about his recent firings of a string of National Security Council staffers who were considered loyal to the president’s nationalist agenda.
In particular, Todd asked about NSC staffer Rich Higgins, who penned a memo warning of “globalists, bankers, Islamists, and establishment Republicans” seeking to undermine the president. That memo led to his firing.
“Is that worldview still represented on this National Security Council or is that something you’ve gotten rid of?” Todd asked McMaster.
McMaster responded that there “shouldn’t be a spot” for those with “narrow agendas” on the NSC.
McMaster replied, “I’m not really aware of any worldview at all except to serve our nation and to serve the president within the National Security Council and if there are those who, who come in, yea, with their own narrow agendas that aren’t there to enable the president, who aren’t there to serve the nation, then there shouldn’t be a spot for them.”
Todd also asked McMaster whether he could work with White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, the former executive chair of Breitbart News, amid reports of clashing over Afghanistan War policy. McMaster dodged answering the question three times.
Todd asked what was “going on” between him and Bannon, amid reports of the two clashing over policies. McMaster said it was “a lot of noise” but added that it was a “great privilege” to work with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley — not naming Bannon.
Todd later repeatedly asked if he and Bannon could work together in the White House, and McMaster avoided answering directly.
The first time he was asked, McMaster said,”I get to work together with a broad range of talented people and it is a privilege every day to enable the national security team.”
The second time he was asked, he responded: “I am ready to work with anybody who will help advance the president’s agenda and advance the security, prosperity of the American people.”
Asked whether he believed Bannon advanced the president’s agenda, McMaster avoided a “yes” or “no” answer.
“I believe that everyone who works in the White House who has the privilege, the great privilege every day of serving their nation should be motivated by that goal,” he said.