Another top official at the National Security Council is departing his position, according to a report Wednesday, the latest shake-up in recent upheaval under national security adviser H.R. McMaster.
The White House confirmed that Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence programs, "has left the National Security Council." Conservative Review reported earlier in the day Wednesday that Cohen-Watnick had been fired.
"General McMaster appreciates the good work accomplished in the NSC's Intelligence directorate under Ezra Cohen's leadership," the White House said in a statement. "He has determined that, at this time, a different set of experiences is best-suited to carrying that work forward. General McMaster is confident that Ezra will make many further significant contributions to national security in another position in the administration."
McMaster reportedly tried to dismiss Cohen-Watnick in March, but Trump blocked the firing after Steve Bannon, White House chief strategist, and Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, advocated for Cohen-Watnick to remain.
Cohen-Watnick, an Iran hawk, was perhaps best known for being one of the two White House sources who provided House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes with evidence that President Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice requested the "unmasking" of the names of Trump associates captured in intelligence intercepts.
Nunes, R-Calif., later recused himself from his committee's Russia investigation after being accused of working too closely with the Trump administration.
Before joining the NSC, Cohen-Watnick, 31, was a little-known figure at the Defense Intelligence Agency where he worked with Mike Flynn.
Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser, hired Cohen-Watnick at the NSC. After Flynn resigned 24 days into his tenure for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russian officials, McMaster quickly removed some of Flynn's NSC appointees.
The rate of those dismissals have picked up in recent days.
McMaster last week fired Derek Harvey, an Iran hawk who was Trump's top Middle East adviser on the NSC.
The Atlantic reported Wednesday that another NSC official was quietly fired last month. Rich Higgins, a former Pentagon official who served in the NSC's strategic-planning office as a director for strategic planning, was dismissed after arguing in an unusual memo that Trump is under attack from "the deep state," and other forces from inside and outside government.