Groups in White House Push Own Agenda, Not Trump’s: Former National Security Adviser

September 21, 2020 Updated: September 21, 2020

Former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, in a wide-ranging interview with CBS on Sept. 20, said the Trump administration consists of several types of groups, including one that seeks to push its own agenda rather than help implement the president’s policies.

McMaster, who was President Donald Trump’s national security adviser for 13 months, characterized members of the Trump administration as consisting of three groups—one that is “there to serve the elected president and to serve the country,” another trying to push its own narrow agendas, while a third is there to block policies they deem harmful.

“There is certainly one group of people there who are there to serve the elected president and to serve the country. I think there are other groups there though, as well, a second group that is there really, instead of providing options to the elected president, they really want to advance their narrow agendas,” the three-star general said.

“And then I think there’s a third group, and I think this is true probably of any administration, who cast themselves in the role of saving the country and maybe the world from the president,” said McMaster, who was then asked about how he approached his time in the White House.

“It was my duty to help the president come to his own decisions,” he replied, adding that he mostly advised Trump on issues relating to “Russian disinformation and election meddling—and a repressive and aggressive China.”

Asked to elaborate on the threat posed by China, McMaster said: “For the Chinese Communist Party, they’re driven really by two fundamental things. First of all, it’s the fear of losing control. That’s why they’re obsessed with control. That’s why you see them extending and tightening their exclusive grip on power with this Orwellian, technologically-enabled surveillance police state. And they’re also determined to achieve national rejuvenation, to take center stage in the world.”

The notion of people in the Trump administration who actively seek to block some of the president’s policies came to the fore when The New York Times ran an op-ed in 2018 titled “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” whose anonymous author wrote, “I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”

At the time, Trump called the anonymous writer “gutless” and the newspaper “phony,” while his press secretary called the alleged administration member a “coward” who should quit.

More recently, a top Trump administration health official alleged the existence of a “resistance unit” against the president inside of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Michael Caputo, assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, made the comments during a Facebook Live video on Sept. 13.

Caputo said in video that within the CDC is a “resistance unit” of career scientists who “haven’t gotten out of their sweatpants except for meetings at coffee shops” during which they plan “how they’re going to attack Donald Trump next.”

“There are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president,” Caputo said.

Caputo has since taken a leave of absence for 60 days, citing concerns about his health. According to The Associated Press, Caputo apologized to his staff for the Facebook video.

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

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