Days after Gen. John Kelly took over as White House chief of staff and immediately fired communication director Anthony Scaramucci, National Security Adviser Gen. H. R. McMaster is asserting his own authority with the firing of Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence.
“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 Wednesday evening. “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.”
McMaster had sought to oust Cohen-Watnick, a 31-year-old rising star who was close to former NSC director Michael Flynn, from the moment he took over as national security adviser, but strong backing from Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon helped the top staffer keep his job.
Cohen-Watnick made headlines back in March after he reportedly provided intelligence information to Devin Nunes, the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee.