PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — CNN political commentator Bakari T. Sellers said that as a Democrat he is “honestly thankful” that H.R. McMaster is serving as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser.
Bakari, a former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, stated:
And, you know, as a Democrat, just as an American, I can tell you that there are couple of people who are thankful for in this White House. And there was a point in time when I had General Kelly on this list but he’s kind of become wayward. But General McMaster, is someone that as a Democrat you’re honestly thankful that he’s there because he upholds some of the fundamental tenants of our democracy.
The other is General Mattis. You know, you’re thankful you have somebody with that experience who appears to be certainly level headed. And these are the only two people along with Nikki Haley who haven’t taken on the personality of their boss. And everyone else has been tainted by Donald Trump. And the then they — you look in the mirror and you become Donald Trump.
Bakari made the comments last night on Anderson Cooper’s CNN’s program.
Watch the remarks here:
The CNN commentator’s statements come amid widespread reports that McMaster is on his way out of the White House. CNN cited an administration official saying McMaster could leave his position this month, while NBC News cited five people familiar with the matter as saying the ouster is being ochestrated by chief of staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed the reports, telling Fox News on Friday that “McMaster is not going anywhere, as the president said yesterday in the Oval Office to a number of people.” Trump “thinks he is doing a great job and is glad he is here,” she added, referring to McMaster.
In recent months, Breitbart News has published a series of investigative pieces documenting McMaster’s troubling ties and radical views on Islamic terrorism.
Some of those ties focus on the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), where McMaster was listed as a member from September 2006 to February 2017, and served as a consulting senior fellow.
As Breitbart News reported, IISS is heavily bankrolled by multinational corporate firms doing billions of dollars in business with Iran.
Another IISS donor is the controversial Ploughshares Fund, a George Soros-funded nonprofit identified by the Obama White House as central to helping sell the Iran nuclear deal to the public and news media. Joseph Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, is listed as a member of IISS in his Georgetown University bio.
Soros’s Open Society is also a direct donor to IISS.
The IISS re-added Soros’s Open Society Foundations and the Soros-financed Ploughshares group to the list of donors on its website following a request from this reporter on the matter.
During a Breitbart News investigation in August, neither the Open Society or Ploughshares were listed on the IISS website page titled “Our Funding” despite this reporter finding literature from those two groups documenting their financing of IISS.
Also, both groups were listed in an archived version of the same IISS donor’s page.
Following a request for comment, both the Open Society and Ploughshares groups were added back to the IISS donor page.
At the time, IISS explained:
As well as the Open Society Foundation, we also accidentally removed the Carnegie, McArthur, and James Foundations, as well as a number of governments and corporate supporters, when we updated the page ten days ago. Your question brought this to our attention and the listing has now been corrected.
Besides direct Soros funding, IISS also quietly took in about $32.5 million in funding from Bahrain, a country whose constitution explicitly enshrines Sharia Islamic law as the governing doctrine. The funding from Bahrain, a repressive regime with a dismal human rights track record but also an important regional U.S. ally, reportedly amounted to one quarter of the think tank’s total income.
A significant portion of the Bahraini funding reportedly pays for the think tank’s annual conference in Bahrain, the Mamana Dialogue. The original agreement between IISS and Bahrain to finance the conference contained a clause calling for the memorandum of understanding to remain confidential, according to the document, which was leaked by a watchdog and published by the Guardian newspaper last year.
As a member of IISS, McMaster participated in the Sixth Mamana Dialogue summit in Bahrain from December 11 to December 13, 2009, Breitbart News found. He is listed in IISS literature as being part of the Mamana Dialogue’s four-person panel that year on “military transformation, intelligence and security cooperation.”
Views on radical Islam
As Trump’s national security adviser, McMaster has faced controversy numerous times for repeatedly minimizing the religious motivations of terrorist groups, including referring to the ideology of Mideast jihadists as “irreligious” in an interview last December.
In November, after Sayfullo Saipov plowed into a crowd of pedestrians and bicyclists in Lower Manhattan, killing eight people, McMaster referred to the attack as among a grouping of “mass murderers.”
This despite reports Saipov left behind a note declaring that the attack was perpetuated in the name of the Islamic State. And witnesses heard Saipov shouting “Allahu Akbar!,” Arabic for “Allah is great,” during the terrorist assault. IS claimed responsibility for the attack.
One month earlier, McMaster labeled the September 11, 2001, Islamic terrorist attacks “mass murder attacks,” instead of calling them acts of terrorism.
Last February, CNN cited a source inside a National Security Council meeting quoting McMaster as saying that use of the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” is unhelpful in working with allies to fight terrorism.
In May, McMaster spoke on ABC’s This Week about whether Trump would use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” in a speech that the president was about to give in Saudi Arabia. “The president will call it whatever he wants to call it,” McMaster said. “But I think it’s important that, whatever we call it, we recognize that [extremists] are not religious people. And, in fact, these enemies of all civilizations, what they want to do is to cloak their criminal behavior under this false idea of some kind of religious war.”
Breitbart News unearthed a 2014 speech about the Middle East in which McMaster claimed that Islamic terrorist organizations are “really un-Islamic” and are “really irreligious organizations” who cloak themselves in the “false legitimacy of Islam.”
Delivering the keynote address at last April’s Norwich University ROTC Centennial Symposium, McMaster criticized “modern-day barbarians like Daesh and al-Qaeda who cynically use a perverted interpretation of religion to perpetuate ignorance, incite hatred, and commit the most heinous crimes against innocents.”
Endorsed book that advocates Quran-kissing apology ceremonies
Breitbart News also reported that McMaster endorsed and touted a book that frames jihad as a largely peaceful “means to struggle or exert effort,” such as waking up early in the morning to recite prayers. It argues that groups like al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations have hijacked the concept of jihad to wage warfare using such tactics as suicide bombings.
That same book calls Hamas an “Islamist political group” while failing to categorize the deadly organization as a terrorist group and refers to al-Qaeda attacks and anti-Israel terrorism as “resistance.”
One section of the book calls on the U.S. military to respond to any “desecrations” of the Quran by service members with an apology ceremony, and advocates kissing a new copy of the Quran before presenting the Islamic text to the local Muslim public.
The book’s author further demanded that any American soldier who “desecrates” the Quran be ejected from the foreign country of deployment, relieved of duty and turned over to a military judge for “punishment.”
“Desecration” of the Quran, according to the McMaster-endorsed book, includes such acts as “letting the Quran fall to the ground during a search, or more blatant instances.”
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this article.