On ABC's "This Week" without George Stephanopoulos, President Obama's Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson was asked by Martha Raddatz "What do you think it says he surrounded himself with generals and they remain, and what do you expect going forward?"
Well, that it's interesting. I don't think anyone would expect -- would have expected we'd have so many retired general officers serving in civilian positions today. There's been a lot of talk this week about people resigning from the White House, whether people should resign from the White House. We saw a number of his advisers resign from advisory councils.
Frankly, if John Kelly, or my friend Jim Mattis, came to me and said I'm thinking about resigning from this White House, I'd say absolutely not. You have to stay.
You're exactly right, Mr. Johnson, so stop right here. Don't go on. However, he couldn't resist adding "As John reportedly said, it's country first. And we need people like John Kelly, Jim Mattis, H.R. McMaster to right the ship."
Oh no, we don't need Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster. Wikipedia explains that when President Trump appointed the General to replace Michael Flynn
McMaster indicated that he "intends to remain on active duty while he serves as national security adviser."
Because McMaster intended to remain on active duty, his official assumption of the National Security Advisor's duties and responsibilities required a United States Senate vote; lieutenant generals and generals require Senate confirmation of their rank and assignments. On March 6, 2017, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 23–2 to recommend to the full Senate that McMaster be confirmed for reappointment at his lieutenant general rank during his service as the National Security Advisor.The committee recommendation was referred to the Senate on March 7, and the full Senate confirmed McMaster by a vote of 86–10 on March 15, 2017.
Those ten senators, all of them Democrats, were right. General McMaster should have been required to make a choice- the active military or civilian service. While on active duty, McMaster- unlike anyone else in the Cabinet- has a commander in chief, and that is the President of the United Statesof America. A conflict of interest prevails because he answers to Donald Trump in a manner no other cabinet head doe.
Three months ago, The Washington Post reported that President Trump had revealed classfied information to the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador in a meeting in the White House. McMaster was trotted out to take the heat for his commander-in-chief, and he delivered when he
said the president shared the information in “context of the conversation” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, saying it was “wholly appropriate to that conversation” and “consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president and any leader with whom he’s engaged.”
McMaster would not confirm if that information was classified.
"I was in the room, the Secretary of State was in the room, as you know, the deputy adviser for national security, Dina Powell, and none of us felt in any way that conversation was inappropriate," McMaster said.
It was classified, it was not appropriate, and it was not consistent with practice. The Post's report was spot-on. But McMaster was asked to be a sycophant for his commander-in-chief, and he took orders without complaint. At the time, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote "It is not unreasonable to ask whether McMaster, a lieutenant general who was previously seen as one of the few credible voices in the administration, can now serve the country and protect it from an unfit president only by resigning."
If there is such a thing as a "Deep State," it is this, with three generals in top positions in the Trump Administration. Yet, two of them are retired while one felt privileged and demanded he be allowed to retain active-duty status. He should resign which, of course, he won't do because National Security Advisor is a pretty good gig. Heck, even former government officials belonging to the opposite party, failing to recognize the conflict, can only sit there and salute.