A copy of the “POTUS & Political Warfare” memorandum, dated May 2017, was published by Foreign Policy on Thursday.
Rich Higgins, who served as the director of strategic planning for the NSC, was the author of the seven-page memorandum. He resigned from the NSC in July after National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster discovered he was behind the memo.
Although it does not mention McMaster’s name specifically, the NSC chief is purportedly one of the people described in the memo as trying to restrain Trump, an unnamed source with first hand knowledge of the memo and events, said, according to Foreign Policy.
“The administration has been maneuvered into a constant back-pedal by relentless political warfare attacks structured to force him to assume a reactive posture that assures inadequate responses,” the memo stated.
“Having become the dominant cultural meme, some benefit from it while others are captured by it; including ‘deep state’ actors, globalists, bankers, Islamists, and establishment Republicans,” the document reads.
After the memo reached McMaster, Higgins, who was working in the strategic planning office, was forced to resign by McMaster’s deputy, Ricky Waddell. Waddell told Higgins that if he didn’t resign, his security clearance would be revoked.
McMaster allegedly determined some NSC staffers that were holdovers from former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s brief tenure were the type of people he had been looking to replace. This also led to the firing of top NSC intelligence official Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Derek Harvey, who controlled the NSC’s Middle East portfolio, according to Foreign Policy.
The most notable change resulting from the shake up is the removal of the president’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, from his seat on the security council.
An unnamed source with first hand knowledge of the memo described McMaster’s decision-making after reviewing the document and discovering his inclusion, Foreign Policy reported.
“It was about H.R. McMaster,” the source said. “So, when he starts reading it, he knows it’s him and he fires [Higgins].”
The memo was purportedly first discovered by McMaster and the NSC after a search for staffers who were believed to be giving information to conservative author and activist Mike Cernovich, who seemed to have uncanny knowledge of operations at the NSC.
A subsequent “routine security” audit of NSC staffers’ communications eventually led to the finding of the memo, unnamed sources said, according to Foreign Policy. A different unnamed source explained the email audit as a McCarthyist-type leak investigation targeting staffers who had communication with Cernovich.
“McMaster was just very, very obsessed with this, with Cernovich,” an unnamed senior administration official told Foreign Policy. “He had become this incredible specter.”
Trump eventually saw the memo and was “furious” after learning the author was fired by McMaster, an unnamed senior White House official said.
“He is still furious,” the senior official added.
The fallout from the document has magnified McMaster’s difficulties at the NSC since taking over from Flynn. One unnamed source familiar with the NSC staff stated that the NSC chief “doesn’t really have any allies,” Foreign Policy reported. “It doesn’t seem as though he has the ear of the president, which is obviously essential to his survival.”
On Wednesday, the billionaire Sheldon Adelson-backed Zionist Organization of America, the oldest pro-Israel group in the United States, unleashed a report calling for McMaster’s reassignment to a post not dealing with issues concerning Israel or Iran. The group accuses McMaster of being a threat to Trump due to his firing of Flynn-era NSC staffers. Adelson contributed $5 million to Trump’s inaugural committee before he was sworn in as president.