Foreign policy journalists are questioning a report claiming Trump's national security adviser said he has the intelligence of a 'kindergartner'
- White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster reportedly disparaged President Donald Trump at a private dinner this summer.
- McMaster's positions have made him a target of Trump loyalists.
- The report about his remarks is only the latest of officials' reported mocking of Trump.
White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster mocked President Donald Trump and several other senior members of the White House staff during a private dinner in July, multiple sources with knowledge of the event told BuzzFeed.
Oracle CEO Safra Catz — who was on the executive committee of Trump's presidential transition team — reportedly said McMaster called the president a "dope" and an "idiot" who has the intelligence of a "kindergartner" during a dinner with Catz on July 18 dinner at Washington, DC, restaurant Tosca.
Four of BuzzFeed's sources said they had heard the account directly from Catz, and a sixth source who was unfamiliar with the dinner said McMaster had made similar comments about Trump to him in private.
A National Security Council spokesman and senior Oracle officials both denied the report, and several journalists who write about foreign policy and national security have called the details of the story into question.
Shanon Weinberger, executive editor at Foreign Policy, suggested the story had been pitched to other outlets, noting on Twitter, "This story is like expired milk. Pushed to enough potential buyers at increasingly discounted price, someone will eventually buy it. But it still tastes bad."
Kate Brannen, deputy managing editor at Just Security, noted that Ezra Cohen-Watnick — whose ouster from the National Security Council spurred efforts by Trump loyalists to force McMaster out — took a job at Oracle in September. Oracle also hired Josh Pitcock, former chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence.
"This story smells a bit funky," noted Jenna McLaughlin, an intelligence reporter at Foreign Policy, adding, "At some point, if you've got a bunch of Oracle sources who did not attend an event they're speaking about, with a history of hating McMaster, telling you things... time to question the motivation behind said 'tips.'"
Earlier this month, a former Trump aide claimed to have fabricated a story about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie that was printed by the New Yorker.
Sources also said McMaster denigrated other administration officials during the July dinner, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, and Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.
Some Trump loyalists and aides have been trying to oust McMaster for a while
According to BuzzFeed, details of the dinner first appeared in August, when Republican donor Sheldon Adelson started backing a campaign to oust McMaster, after Catz told him of comments made by McMaster praising the Iran nuclear deal and criticizing Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, Axios reported at the time.
Catz, who was born in Israel and is a donor to Republican and Democrats and has been considered for several jobs in the Trump administration, told one of the sources that McMaster's remarks were "so inappropriate" as to be "jaw-dropping."
Even before the comments were supposedly made, McMaster was a target for ouster by some of Trump's most loyal aides and supporters. The firing of Cohen-Watnick, who was appointed by McMaster's predecessor, Michael Flynn, later in the summer reportedly intensified that effort. Trump threw water on those machinations in early August, saying McMaster was "a good man and very pro-Israel."
Other officials and political leaders have disparaged Trump's intelligence and comportment in public and private.
In early October, reports emerged that Tillerson had referred to Trump as a "moron" after a National Security Council meeting in which Trump supposedly asked for a "tenfold" increase in the US nuclear arsenal. On October 8, just a few hours after Trump criticized Republican Sen. Bob Corker on Twitter, Corker replied, "It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center."
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