It’s already been a week filled with a chaotic number of White House senior staff arrivals and departures. But now it turns out the Donald Trump administration has quietly fired a top National Security Council official under strange circumstances. If that sounds a little bit too familiar, it’s because it’s the second time a top National Security Council official has been fired in a week – and both firings appear to be attempts at harming Steve Bannon.
Over the weekend, NBC News first reported the story of how Derek Harvey had been fired from the National Security Council (link). Harvey had been a Steve Bannon loyalist, and he was fired by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. But today comes word that in the same timeframe, Rich Higgins was also fired from his top National Security Council post (link). Higgins was also a Steve Bannon loyalist. Remarkably, this comes at a time when separate reports say Donald Trump is considering firing both McMaster and Bannon.
So there are a couple of ways to interpret these firings. One is that McMaster unilaterally made these moves in an attempt at weakening Bannon in order to protect his own job security. Another is that Trump gave McMaster the greenlight to fire the Bannon loyalists because Trump wants Bannon weakened so he can push him out. This series of events could help spell the end of McMaster, Bannon, or both, but it very much appears that at least one of them won’t survive this.
Last week Donald Trump appeared to hire Anthony Scaramucci for the sole purpose of using him to get rid of Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus, before turning around and quickly getting rid of Scaramucci as well. Now it looks like Trump may be using the same strategy to get Steve Bannon and H.R. McMaster to destroy each other so they can both be ousted. Update: Ezra Cohen-Watnick was also reportedly fired from the National Security Council (link), roughly five minutes after we published this article. Something major is afoot.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report