What H.R. McMaster Said About Trump Was Reportedly “So Inappropriate That It Was Jaw-Dropping”
According to BuzzFeed, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster mocked President Trump at a dinner with Oracle CEO Safra Catz in July, reportedly calling Trump an "idiot" and a "dope," and likening his boss's intelligence to that of a "kindergartener." The Trump administration denied the report, with a representative from the National Security Council and an Oracle vice president telling BuzzFeed that McMaster didn't say any of those things about Trump.
BuzzFeed reports that McMaster made the remarks to Catz, who worked on Trump's transition team and has reportedly been considered for a cabinet appointment in the administration, during a private dinner in July. Four sources told BuzzFeed that Catz herself informed them of McMaster's apparent comments about Trump.
“[Catz] said the conversation was so inappropriate that it was jaw-dropping,” one source told BuzzFeed.
This isn't the first time a top Trump aide has been accused of trashing the president's intelligence behind his back. In October, several news outlets reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a "moron" during a (different) July meeting. Although the State Department says that this never happened, Tillerson himself refused on multiple occasions to deny the rumors, calling them "petty" but not addressing whether or not he actually used the word "moron" in reference to Trump.
A sixth source told BuzzFeed that they'd heard McMaster disparage the president's intelligence in private in the past, claiming that the National Security Advisor once remarked that Trump lacked the necessary brainpower to comprehend issues discussed at the National Security Council.
A spokesperson for the National Security Council pushed back against BuzzFeed's account of the July dinner.
“Actual participants in the dinner deny that General McMaster made any of the comments attributed to him by anonymous sources," Michael Anton told BuzzFeed. "Those false comments represent the diametric opposite of General McMaster's actual views."
Oracle's senior VP for governmental affairs, Ken Glueck, also denied BuzzFeed's report, claiming that "none of the statements attributed to General McMaster were said." BuzzFeed added, however, that Glueck only responded to its request for comment after the news outlet contacted the National Security Council. Two sources also told BuzzFeed that administration officials reportedly threatened "retaliation" against several people with knowledge of the July dinner if they spoke to BuzzFeed about the report.
According to BuzzFeed, McMaster disparaged not only Trump but several other members of the administration, including Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, former White House strategist Steve Bannon and Trump's son-in-law and top advisor Jared Kushner. McMaster reportedly said that Kushner had no business being in the White House and shouldn't be involved in national security matters.
Axios had originally reported on the McMaster-Katz dinner in July, but in a different context. According to Axios, GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson got wind of what was discussed at that dinner, and subsequently concluded that McMaster wasn't sufficiently pro-Israel and should thus be removed from the Trump administration. BuzzFeed now reports that McMaster spoke highly of former President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran in his discussion with Katz, who is from Israel. The Iran nuclear deal, broadly speaking, is deeply unpopular amongst strong supporters of Israel.
McMaster joined the Trump administration in February following the ouster of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. He's often been depicted, along with Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, as one of the "adults in the room" in the Trump administration. However, he's also hated by many of Trump's far-right nationalist supporters. Upon assuming his post, McMaster fired several NSC officials who Flynn — a favorite of the alt-right — had brought in to the White House, igniting a "Fire McMaster" campaign amongst Trump's base on Twitter.