National security adviser H.R. McMaster has fired intelligence operative Ezra Cohen-Watnick from the National Security Council, though he may work elsewhere in the administration, the White House said Wednesday.
“General McMaster appreciates the good work accomplished in the NSC’s Intelligence directorate under Ezra Cohen’s leadership,” a White House official said in a statement circulated via pool report. “He has determined that, at this time, a different set of experiences is best-suited to carrying that work forward. General McMaster is confident that Ezra will make many further significant contributions to national security in another position in the administration.”
H.R. McMaster had tried to fire Cohen-Watnick from his post as senior director for intelligence programs before, but President Donald Trump overruled him. Top White House aides Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon had pushed for Trump to keep him on.
Trump’s short-lived first national security adviser, the retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, had brought Cohen-Watnick onto the NSC.