No one is getting fired right now. That is what the White House is telling reporters and its own jittery staff.
Chief of Staff John Kelly gathered some personnel Friday and told them “people shouldn’t be concerned,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “We should do exactly what we do every day, and that’s come to work and do the very best job that we can.”
Sanders took to Twitter on Thursday night to rebut breaking news stories that President Donald Trump had decided to remove national security adviser H.R. McMaster.
“I spoke directly to the president last night,” Sanders told reporters Friday. “He asked me to pass that message along to General McMaster. I know the two of them have been in meetings today. Whether or not that came up, I don’t know.”
A little while later, McMaster was seen escorting guests out of the West Wing entrance.
“Sarah set it straight yesterday. Everybody has got to leave the White House at some point,” he said.
Asked by a reporter whether he was leaving sooner rather than later, McMaster replied, “I’m doing my job.”
Media reports on dismissal
The Washington Post and several other news organizations have reported the three-star general’s removal from the key post had already been decided by Trump, but it is not yet being announced to spare McMaster embarrassment.
There is also speculation the president will award the general a fourth star and send him back into the field to command troops, perhaps on the Korean Peninsula.
Trump has made little effort to hide his frustration with the active-duty career officer who is regarded as an iconoclastic battle veteran.
McMaster, according to White House insiders, also seems eager to leave, fed up with an unconventional administration and flummoxed by a commander-in-chief with whom he has failed to bond.
The president chastised McMaster last month after the national security adviser said Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election was “incontrovertible.”
“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems,” Trump tweeted.
Reports of McMaster’s impending removal followed the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this week.
‘There will always be change’
There is also intense speculation that several members of the president’s Cabinet could be short-timers, primarily because of bad publicity about costly and dubious travel, as well as questionable cosmetic but expensive office modifications.
“There will always be change,” Trump told reporters Thursday. “And I think you want to see change. I want to also see different ideas.”
If the president follows through in replacing him, McMaster will become the second national security adviser to leave the job since Trump took office.
The first one, retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, was fired weeks into his tenure in 2017 after misleading White House officials about contacts with Russians.
Flynn has made a plea deal with federal prosecutors for lying about conversations with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and is bound to fully cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian government efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller’s team appears to be examining a wide range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses, as well as those of his associates, and now has reportedly issued a subpoena for records from the Trump Organization.