Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council, has been dismissed from the White House, two senior administration officials who are not authorized to discuss personnel matters told Conservative Review on Wednesday.
Cohen-Watnick, 31, was originally brought on board by former NSC chief Gen. Michael Flynn.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has, in the past, attempted to rid the council of Cohen-Watnick, but was overruled by President Trump, Steve Bannon, and Jared Kushner.
He has been described as an “Iran hawk” who wanted to revamp counter-Iran efforts in the Middle East, and sought to reform the intelligence community to rein in the “deep state” of unaccountable bureaucrats with rogue agendas.
Cohen-Watnick is the latest Trump loyalist to be fired by Gen. McMaster, whose security council continues to be overwhelmingly staffed with Obama holdovers (almost all of whom have retained their positions).
In the past, McMaster has refused to fire the Obama holdovers. Now-fired Middle East NSC director Derek Harvey compiled a list of Obama holdovers and took that list directly to the president, who requested that McMaster follow through with Harvey's recommendations. McMaster outright refused.
Under McMaster, the National Security Council has leaked classified information at an unprecedented rate, leading Congress to issue a report warning about its ramifications.
Additionally, top Obama officials continue to come and go in and out of the White House compound as they please. One prominent official, Robert Malley (Obama’s “ISIS czar"), has continued to brief National Security Council staff.
The White House confirmed in a statement that Cohen-Watnick has left the NSC:
General McMaster appreciates the good work accomplished in the NSC's Intelligence directorate under Ezra Cohen's leadership. He has determined that, at this time, a different set of experiences is best-suited to carrying that work forward. General McMaster is confident that Ezra will make many further significant contributions to national security in another position in the administration.
Author's note: This story is developing and will continue to be updated if necessary.
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