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A Strained Trump-McMaster Relationship

During Trump’s visit to Israel, he cut his National Security Advisor out of his meeting with Netanyahu while bringing along his son-in-law and Jason Greenblatt:

Two former US administration officials told Kafe Knesset that McMaster’s absence from the meeting is “highly unusual. For the President to prioritize his son-in-law and his lawyer over the National Security Advisor for these kind of strategic discussions is unconventional, to say the least.”

The precise reason for keeping McMaster out of the meeting isn’t known yet, but there is speculation that it is related to some of his earlier statements regarding the Western Wall and references to Palestinian self-determination. It is possible that Trump was penalizing him for saying things that weren’t as reflexively “pro-Israel” as the president wanted, or it may simply be that his relationship with McMaster has become so strained that he doesn’t want him around. This report quotes a New York Times article from last week, which said this:

Mr. Trump, who still openly laments having to dismiss Mr. Flynn, has complained that General McMaster talks too much in meetings, and the president has referred to him as “a pain,” according to one of the officials.

If McMaster is being cut out of high-level meetings with foreign leaders this early on in Trump’s presidency, it will be impossible for him to do his job effectively. It tells other governments that he doesn’t have the president’s full confidence. That will make Trump’s foreign policy team even less functional than it already was. The fact that Trump gives precedence to his son-in-law over the man appointed for exactly this sort of work is an insult to McMaster and further proof that he falls back on using family and friends instead of relying on qualified professionals.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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