President Donald Trump’s White House is being put in the awkward position of having to choose sides between major donors and its own senior staffers. On Wednesday night, a right-wing, pro-Israel lobby group funded largely by the Adelson family — which also gave millions to Trump’s presidential campaign and inauguration — launched a broadside attack against National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster.
The Zionist Organization of America announced Monday that it was undertaking a review of McMaster’s record on Israel, according to an “exclusive” story in the right-wing website, Breitbart. On Wednesday, the group released a statement calling for McMaster to be reassigned from the National Security Council because, according to the ZOA, he “purged from the NSC those officials who were carrying out President Trump’s policies of combating Iranian and radical Islamist transnational threats.”
“Gen. McMaster’s record during these past few months can only lead to the conclusion that McMaster is opposed to President Trump’s basic policy positions on Israel, Iran, and Islamist terror,” ZOA president Morton Klein said in the statement. “Gen. McMaster is not the appropriate person to serve the Trump White House as top national security adviser. The ZOA strongly recommends that Gen. McMaster be reassigned to a different role in this administration, unrelated to these critical issues.”
The White House has shown a willingness to act — and act fast — to stay in Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson’s good graces. When then-press secretary Sean Spicer went on a bizarre rant declaring Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to be worse than Adolf Hitler, for instance, Spicer picked up the phone afterward and personally called Adelson to apologize. But the latest rift with an Adelson-backed group appears to be more severe and will likely take more than a simple phone apology to resolve.
Breitbart, which first reported the inquiry and its results, is also linked to a top Trump donor — Robert Mercer invested at least $10 million in the site — as well as Steve Bannon, Trump’s former campaign chair and now one of his top political strategists. Bannon, who once ran Breitbart, leads a “nationalist” faction in the White House that clashes frequently with what these “nationalists” have deemed “globalist” forces in the halls of power — those, such as McMaster and others, who are willing to engage in international diplomacy and trade.
The ZOA’s attack on McMaster pits Adelson and Mercer, two extreme right-wing Trump backers, against Trump’s new chief of staff, retired Gen. John Kelly, who is widely seen as bringing some discipline and order to a White House that constantly finds itself in chaos. Kelly is said to be closely allied with McMaster.
In its statement, the ZOA pointed to McMaster’s personnel changes at the NSC. “Gen. McMaster has appointed officials who are holdovers from the Obama administration, who favor the Iran nuclear deal and are hostile to Israel — officials who are diametrically opposed to President Trump’s policies,” the statement said.
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