After a spate of White House personnel changes, the Trump camp is seeing “America Firsters” on the rise, The Hill reported Wednesday.
The exits of former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — two establishment figures — have paved the way for Amb. John Bolton and Secretary of State-nominee Mike Pompeo, who are more ideologically aligned with President Donald Trump.
And as The Hill noted, Bolton is bringing in Mira Ricardel as his deputy — someone who served on the Trump transition team at the Defense Department and had reportedly fought to bring in pro-Trump officials but was overruled by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
Trump loyalist Ezra Cohen-Watnick is also back in the administration in a key national security role, after clashing with McMaster and being falsely accused of sharing intelligence with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA).
He is serving as Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ national security adviser and plans to play a key role in domestically safeguarding the U.S. from Russia, China, and Iran.
“Ezra coming back was a sign that people who are true believers in ‘America First’ are now welcome once again in the administration,” a former White House official told The Hill.
“It is a signal that there is a home for Trump supporters within the Trump administration,” the former official said.
In the beginning of the administration, a battle had ensued in the White House between the establishment Republican and nationalist camps, which saw the departure of major Trump loyalists.
Michael Caputo, a longtime friend of the president, told The Hill: “On the record — with bold, underline and italics — I believe there was a cadre of anti-Trump Republicans who made it their mission to get into the White House in order to subvert his agenda.”
But now, the recent hires shows a “reboot” of American Firsters in the second year of the administration, a GOP operative said.
“At this point, no rational, sane person thinks that they are going to convince Donald Trump to do something other than what he had promised to do. That’s a good thing,” Barry Bennett, a senior Trump campaign adviser said. “And I think those who thought that somehow he didn’t mean what he said are headed for the exits — and that’s a good thing, too.”
Allies of Trump argue that being “America First” does not mean agreeing with the president on every issue.
“It’s about finding people willing to follow through on the president’s agenda versus people who see themselves as trying to … ‘save the country from the president’s agenda,'” the former White House official said.
McMaster had repeatedly tried to get the president to temper his language on radical Islamic terrorism, on Kim Jong-un, and on NATO.
His exit was soon followed by his deputy Nadia Schadlow, National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton, and a number of his closest staff members.