The house needs to be cleaned. Instead McMaster and Mattis have put themselves in charge of bringing in some of Obama's worst people. Mattis' attempt to move in Anne Patterson, the Muslim Brotherhood's greatest American ally in Egypt, is so mindboggling in its inappropriateness that you have to conclude that someone else is calling the shots on that network.
And it isn't President Trump's people. And McMasters keeps doing things like this.
Over the weekend, a personnel dispute within the National Security Council between the national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, and senior White House aides Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon was eventually brought to President Trump himself. As Politico reported Tuesday evening, Trump overruled McMaster, who had sought to move the NSC's senior director of intelligence programs to another position, reportedly after "weeks of pressure from career officials at the CIA." Some of those CIA officials, THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned, were pushing for one of their own to take the job in Trump's White House.
The current NSC official is Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a 30-year-old former intelligence operations officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency who was brought into the Trump White House by the former DIA director, Mike Flynn. Flynn resigned as national security advisor last month. Like Flynn, Cohen-Watnick has been critical of the CIA's perceived politicization during the Obama administration.
Two sources within the White House tell me that last week McMaster had interviewed a potential replacement for Cohen-Watnick: longtime CIA official Linda Weissgold. Weissgold apparently had a good interview with McMaster, as she was overheard saying as she left the White House she would next have to "talk to Pompeo"—as in Mike Pompeo, the director of the CIA. But Weissgold was never offered the job; days later, Trump himself overruled the effort to move Cohen-Watnick out of his senior director role.
During the Obama administration Weissgold served as director of the CIA's Office of Terrorism Analysis. She was among those who briefed Congress following the Benghazi terrorist attack in 2012, a team of intelligence and military experts who reportedly earned the nickname "the dream team" within the administration.
In her position at OTA, she was also involved directly in drafting the now infamous Benghazi talking points, which government officials revised heavily to include factually incorrect assessments that stated the attackers were prompted by protests. According to the House Select Committee on Benghazi's report, Weissgold testified she had changed one such talking point to say that extremists in Benghazi with ties to al Qaeda had been involved in "protests" in the Libyan city, despite the fact that no such protests had occurred there on the day of the attack.
Trump overruled McMaster on Weissgold. He overruled Mattis on Patterson. But it's a ridiculous situation. Top appointees shouldn't be bringing these people through the door. Period. Lee Smith at the Tablet has a list of some of the cretins that have gone through the door. Smith is no fan of Trump, but the list of people who are still on there, but shouldn't be, is hard to argue with.
Yael Lempert, a National Security Council staffer from the Obama administration that the Trump team decided to keep on, is in Jerusalem this week with the White House’s special representative for international negotiations, longtime Trump lawyer Jason Greenblatt. Lempert, one former Clinton official told me, “is considered one of the harshest critics of Israel on the foreign policy far left. From her position on the Obama NSC, she helped manufacture crisis after crisis in a relentless effort to portray Israel negatively and diminish the breadth and depth of our alliance...
Then there's Brett McGurk whose advancement was blocked even within Obama Inc. due to a scandal. And... oh yes.
Key documents relating to the Obama administration’s secret negotiations with Iran, including a $1.7 billion cash payment, are being stored at a highly secure site on Capitol Hill, preventing the public and many in Congress from accessing them, according to multiple sources who described the situation to the Washington Free Beacon.
The documents are not technically classified but are being kept in a “secure reading space” where the majority of congressional officials cannot access them. Those cleared are forced to relinquish their cellular devices and are barred from taking notes, undermining the ability of staffers to brief their lawmakers on the contents, according to the sources.
Sources further disclosed that joint U.S.-Iranian signatures across the three documents add up to a package deal between Washington and Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, the country's internal spy agency. Sources familiar with a closed-door January briefing by senior Obama administration officials told the Free Beacon they were informed the United States negotiated with "the Iranian intelligence apparatus.”
The terms of the arrangement—which was signed by Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk—had Iran releasing several U.S. hostages and obligated Washington to pay Tehran $1.7 billion in cash, removed international sanctions on a key financial node of Iran’s ballistic missile program, and dropped charges against 21 Iranian operatives linked to terrorism.
Unlike some of the names, who may not yet have been sidelined or fired, McGurk actually got a plum position. Despite what he was best known for.
McGurk was the point man on this pro-Iran policy, famously arranging for Iran to get $400 million in cash delivered on wooden pallets to the IRGC in exchange for American hostages.
Remember when the Trump administration promised to make public the secret agreements that Obama made with Iran? McGurk signed some of the secret documents, relieving sanctions on a key financial hub of Iran’s ballistic-missile program, and dropping charges against 21 Iranian operatives linked to terrorism. Notably, none of those documents has actually been made public. Maybe that’s because McGurk’s name is on them, or maybe it’s because former National Iranian American Council staffer Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, Obama’s NSC director for Iran, is now on the policy-planning staff in Trump’s State Department.
Speaking of Sahar Nowrouzzadeh....
A trusted Obama aide who once worked for an alleged Iranian regime lobbying group is one of the individuals in charge of Iran policy planning at the State Department under Secretary Rex Tillerson.
Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, the Iran director for former President Obama’s National Security Council (NSC), has burrowed into the government under President Trump. She’s now in charge of Iran and the Persian Gulf region on the policy planning staff at the State Department.
To make matters worse, Nowrouzzadeh is a former employee of the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), a non-profit that is accused of being a lobbying group for the Iranian regime. NIAC’s current president, Trita Parsi, has long held close relationships with top officials in the Tehran dictatorship. In February, a group of over 100 prominent Iranian dissidents called for Congress to investigate NIAC’s ties to the Iranian regime.
Arguably Tillerson may just be better at getting these people through the door than McMaster and Mattis.
A new foreign policy requires a clean slate. At the very least it requires getting people like this out of the way. It's not hard to see why the administration is being constantly undermined.