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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Fifth US official fired from the White House

Five officials in the President’s team or the National Security Council have been fired in the last seven days

US president Donald Trump has let a number of staff go in a short space of time. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
US president Donald Trump has let a number of staff go in a short space of time. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

In a move that coincides with the appointment of General John Kelly as the new Chief of Staff at the White House and a more aggressive approach from National Security Adviser General HR McMaster, five officials in the President’s team or the National Security Council have been fired in the last seven days.

Following the firing of Middle East director Derek Harvey and director of strategic planning in the NSC Rich Higgins, Mr McMaster fired senior aide Ezra Cohen-Watnick on Wednesday evening.

“General McMaster appreciates the good work accomplished in the NSC's Intelligence directorate under Ezra Cohen's leadership” the White House said. However “at this time, a different set of experiences is best-suited to carrying that work forward. General McMaster is confident that Mr Ezra will make many further significant contributions to national security in another position in the administration" the statement added.

Sources told The National that Mr McMaster is hoping to build a more “coherent team that can function more effectively and coordinate policy better with the Pentagon and Congress.” All the three firings at the NSC were appointed by former NSA Mike Flynn who left his position in February following an ongoing investigation into his alleged inappropriate contacts with Russian officials before Mr Trump took office.

In parallel to the firings at the NSC, Reince Priebus, Mr Trump’s former chief of staff, and communications director Mr Anthony Scaramucci also resigned in the last few days.

Mr Kelly is hoping to enforce some discipline in the White House's operation after a turbulent start for the Trump team marred with leaks and internal divisions.