National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster bashed President Trump’s presidential campaign chief executive and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Sunday, accusing him of advancing his own “narrow” agenda.
When asked by Fox News’ Chris Wallace if he was trying to say that Bannon was “trying to work around and advance his own agenda,” McMaster responded: “There were some who try to operate outside of that process for their own narrow agendas, and that didn’t serve the president well.”
Breitbart News Senior Editor at Large Joel B. Pollak responded: “Bannon’s only agenda was Trump’s campaign promises on his whiteboard.”
Bannon’s only agenda was Trump’s campaign promises on his whiteboard. So far McMaster’s agenda breaks from some of those (especially Israel) https://t.co/gYJM9APzpW
— Joel B. Pollak (@joelpollak) September 17, 2017
Bannon’s West Wing whiteboard became widely known as the only official White House log of Trump’s campaign promises, a daily prompt to make sure that the president stuck to the agenda on which he was elected.
That agenda included promises such as avoiding unnecessary wars, implementing a refugee ban, renegotiating trade deals, enacting tax reform for the middle class, and repealing Obamacare.
McMaster, arguably, has tried to steer the president away from that populist, nationalist agenda, and towards one he believes serves the country better.
For example, McMaster has reportedly urged the president to recertify the Iran deal, and has repeatedly argued against the use of the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” He also opposed Trump’s summit in Saudi Arabia — Iran’s arch enemy — earlier this year, calling it “too ambitious,” as Breitbart News has previously reported. He also was publicly noncommittal on Trump’s efforts to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
McMaster has tried to put other words in the president’s mouth — promising allies at a NATO summit in May that Trump would reaffirm Article Five of the convention. Trump chose not to do so explicitly, in line with his pressure tactic to urge NATO members to meet their defense spending commitments. (Since then, the president has reaffirmed Article Five several times, after members began paying more.)
But one of McMaster’s biggest successes is convincing the president to go against his earlier instincts and agree to a nearly 4,000-troop increase in Afghanistan, retrying the same strategy the military wanted to pursue in 2009, but this time without a exit date. He also reportedly presented the president with an option for an increase of 50,000 U.S. troops.
Bannon, on the other hand, wanted to draw down U.S. forces to a counterterrorism mission in line with Trump’s promises on the campaign trail to end the war.
McMaster has also been accused of pushing out those who were trying to implement the president’s agenda.
For example, retired Army Col. Derek Harvey, the former Middle East adviser at the National Security Council, had drafted a plan to withdraw from the Iran deal. McMaster had reportedly told Harvey to stop talking to Bannon, who McMaster knew was close to the president and had his ear, as Breitbart News has previously reported.
When Harvey was seen leaving Bannon’s office after that, one of McMaster’s top aides, who had served as a top official under the Obama administration, reportedly told him it was not a good idea to talk to Bannon, and McMaster fired Harvey later that week.
In the Fox News interview, McMaster downplayed reports of feuding with Bannon, saying “this really didn’t even happen.”
“I think this has been too hyped on one individual. I mean, these reports of feuding, this really didn’t even happen. I mean, we had our doors open to all perspectives within the National Security Council,” he said.
“It was up to those individuals whether they would walk through that door and permit — and participate in an open and transparent process,” he added.
This post has been updated to add a report about suggested Afghanistan troop numbers.