President Trump has reportedly overturned a personnel decision made by his national security adviser at the behest of Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster had informed Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence programs, that he’d be moving to another position on Friday, Politico reported. McMaster reportedly made the decision after receiving complaints from several career officials about the 30-year-old intelligence operative. But Cohen-Watnick went to Bannon and Kushner—with whom he’d apparently formed an alliance while working on the president’s transition team—and fought the move, two sources close to the matter told Politico. After they informed Trump of the situation Sunday, he overruled McMaster and told Cohen-Watnick he could stay put. Cohen-Watnick was brought to the council by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser forced to step down over his communications with Russian officials. The move seems likely to fuel tensions between Trump and members of the intelligence community, many of whom have expressed concerns about the president’s dismissive attitude toward intelligence agencies’ findings on Russian election meddling. The White House deferred questions about the incident to the NSC, a spokesman for which declined to comment. Cohen-Watnick, Kushner, and Bannon have not commented on the matter.
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