National security adviser H.R. McMaster expects team cohesion to improve in the White House with John Kelly taking over as chief of staff.
In a wide-ranging interview on MSNBC that aired Saturday morning, McMaster spoke to the internal chaos that has hindered the Trump administration, which is trying to crack down on wave after wave of leaks.
McMaster praised President Trump's decision to bring in Kelly to try and patch things up, not only for the optics that a military man brings, but also for his talent and experience.
"What Gen. Kelly's arrival means is you have an extraordinarily talented leader with a broad range of experience," McMaster told host Hugh Hewitt. "And people of course see ... retired Marine Corps general, and they recognize that he has ... an extraordinary record ... of accomplishment within the military. But he also has a broad range of experience now outside ... the military as ... in Homeland Security, where he took over a very complex organization and made tremendous progress advancing the president's agenda, ... and our national interests in, as a Cabinet secretary."
Kelly, who had been serving as Trump's homeland security secretary, officially began his new position in the White House on Monday, replacing Reince Priebus. Trump made the staffing announcement on Twitter, calling Kelly "a true star" of his administration. With the entrance of Kelly came the ouster of new communications director Anthony Scaramucci, a financier firebrand with a penchant for slinging expletives at his colleagues, including Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon
McMaster, in the interview which Hewitt said was taped mid-week, said he expects the White House environment to mend under Kelly.
"In terms of experience level, you know, demeanor, leadership ability, it's gonna be great for all of us, I think, in terms of improving our ability to operate together as a team," McMaster said.
McMaster also touched on the turbulent times for the National Security Council. It was reported this week that he initiated the ouster of Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence programs at the National Security Council, and the latest ally of former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn to be dismissed from the White House. The move came after McMaster previously failed to fire Cohen-Watnick in March, being blocked by the efforts of Bannon and Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser. Bannon and McMaster are also said to be butting heads on the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.
"Now, you know, there, a lot of the conventional wisdom was, you know, 'Gosh, you know, it's chaotic over there in the White House and everything else.' I'll — I'll just tell you that I am very proud of-of– of our national security team overall," McMaster told Hewitt.
Though there have been a report that Trump may be looking to send McMaster to Afghanistan to lead the war effort there, Kelly has reportedly told McMaster he supports him remaining as national security adviser.
Trump came to McMaster's defense in a statement late Friday, which pushed back on reports that McMaster is anti-Israel.
"General McMaster and I are working very well together. He is a good man and very pro-Israel. I am grateful for the work he continues to do serving our country," he said.