Washington girded for further change in President Donald Trump’s administration, as national security adviser H.R. McMaster’s position appeared increasingly precarious and a series of staff departures prompted a U.S. senator to publicly urge the president not to fire his attorney general.
Mr. Trump has decided to oust Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and has conveyed that decision to John Kelly, his chief of staff, according to administration officials. The timing of a departure was unclear, with one official saying it could happen “imminently” and another saying it could be weeks, even months.
Mr. Trump doesn’t yet have a replacement in mind, and is unlikely to force a departure before he has one, the officials said. The president wants a more graceful exit for his national security adviser than he afforded Rex Tillerson, the former secretary of state he fired via Twitter earlier this week, one official said.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted Thursday evening that she had spoken to the president and his national security adviser and that “contrary to reports they have a good working relationship and there are no changes at the [National Security Council].”
Gen. McMaster attended a White House event Thursday evening honoring the Irish prime minister and joked with reporters there, including responding to one question that appeared to touch on his future by asking: “Have you heard anything?”
The military is actively looking for a new job for Gen. McMaster, but it could take time to find a suitable position, U.S. officials said.
In recent days, Mr. Trump began discussing potential successors for Gen. McMaster, according to former Trump administration officials. Mr. Trump met last week with John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who has openly discussed his interest in the national security post.
Mr. Trump was expected to speak with other potential replacements this weekend, the former officials said, including Stephen Biegun, an executive at Ford Motor Co., who previously served on the National Security Council. The president’s plan to oust Gen. McMaster was reported by the Washington Post on Thursday evening.
Following the recent departures of several senior staff members, Mr. Trump has signaled this week that he may seek to remove other officials. On Thursday, he played down predictions of a shake-up coming, but previewed some further changes.