The National Security Council’s controversial senior director for intelligence programs has been removed from his position, sources say, in the latest sign that National-Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is asserting control over the office he runs.
Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a 31-year-old former Defense Intelligence Agency officer who was brought in to the administration by former National-Security Adviser Michael Flynn, was let go from the council this week, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The White House confirmed Cohen-Watnick’s firing on Wednesday evening, with a White House official saying in a statement: "General McMaster appreciates the good work accomplished in the NSC's Intelligence directorate under Ezra Cohen's leadership. 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."
According to a senior administration official familiar with the matter, Cohen-Watnick is expected to move to another job within the administration. The official said that there had been a plan to keep Cohen-Watnick in the job until a new position was finalized, but that Cohen-Watnick was called in to a meeting with McMaster on Wednesday in which McMaster informed him he would be leaving now.