Flynn holdover Cohen-Watnick removed from Nat'l Security Council

By Ed Adamczyk  |  Aug. 3, 2017 at 7:56 AM
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Aug. 3 (UPI) -- Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior intelligence director of the National Security Council, has been removed from his post, the White House confirmed Wednesday.

Cohen-Watnick, 31, was hired during the short tenure of Michael Flynn as President Donald Trump's national security adviser. Flynn was dismissed by Trump in February after he misled administration officials, about his prior contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Current national security adviser H.R. McMaster sought to remove Cohen-Watnick from the NSC but was initially dissuaded from doing so by other senior White House advisers. His departure may signal that McMaster has acquired additional power to shape the council and purge the agency of Flynn appointees, Bloomberg News reported.

Retired Army intelligence officer Derek Harvey, a senior Middle East adviser and also a Flynn hire, left the NSC last week.

Cohen-Watnick's removal on Wednesday is the third significant personnel shift at the White House this week. Trump's chief of staff, John Kelly, took over for the resigned Reince Priebus on Monday -- and fired Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci just hours later, after only 10 days in the post.

"To me, this was simply about chain of command," former CIA and NSC director Michael Hayden told Bloomberg. "This is the way things are done in John Kelly's universe. People with responsibility get commensurate authority. McMaster wanted him out."

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