White House responds to report of preparations to oust H.R. McMaster

By: CBS News
March 1, 2018

President Trump is calling a report from NBC News that White House chief of staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis are engineering the replacement of H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, "fake news," according to the National Security Council's spokesperson.

The NBC report cited five sources familiar with discussions, claiming the White House is preparing for McMaster's departure as early as next month. Michael Anton, spokesman for the National Security Council, said he just met with Mr. Trump and McMaster.

"I was just with President Trump and H.R. McMaster in the Oval Office. President Trump said that the NBC News story is 'fake news,' and told McMaster that he is doing a great job," Anton said in a statement provided to reporters.

Raj Shah, principal deputy press secretary, said the White House frequently faces "rumor an innuendo about senior administration officials. There are no personnel announcements at this time."

NBC claimed Stephen Biegun, a current Ford executive with national security experience from the George W. Bush administration, is a top contender to replace McMaster. McMaster is the president's second national security adviser, after former national security adviser Michael Flynn was ousted in February of last year after he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contact with a Russian official. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in December.

The White House has seen a handful of top departures lately, the most recent one being White House communications director Hope Hicks. Hicks gave a tearful goodbye to her colleagues as she announced her resignation Wednesday, as CBS News has reported.