PALM BEACH, Fla.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday tapped Army Lt. Gen. Herbert Raymond McMaster, a military strategist and career officer with an reputation as an intellectual, to be his new national security adviser.
H.R. McMaster fills the void left by Michael Flynn, who was ousted one week ago.
“He’s a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience,” Trump told reporters in Palm Beach, Florida, of McMaster. “ . . . He is highly respected by everyone in the military, and we’re very honored to have him.”
McMaster, dressed in his uniform at the announcement at the president’s Mar-a-Lago estate, said it was a privilege to continue serving the country.
“I look forward to joining the national security team and doing everything that I can to advance and protect the interests of the American people,” he said.
Trump also announced that former acting National Security Adviser Keith Kellogg, a retired Army lieutenant general, will serve as National Security Council chief of staff.
Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation on Feb. 13, but defended him fiercely in the days afterward.
Trump and his aides said Flynn acted legally and within his duties when he discussed U.S. sanctions with a Russian ambassador before Trump took office. But they said he was wrong to mislead Vice President Mike Pence about the conversation.
McMaster, who will stay on active duty in the post, takes the reins of a National Security Council off to a shaky start in Trump’s one-month presidency.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump gave McMaster “full authority . . . to hire whatever staff he sees fit.”
McMaster previously was director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center and deputy commanding general of futures at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
The decorated officer, 54, graduated from West Point and has a Ph.D. in U.S. history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He wrote “Dereliction of Duty,” a 1997 book critical of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s approach to the Vietnam War.
McMaster also was outspoken on the initial Iraq War strategy. “When we came to Iraq, we didn’t understand the complexity — what it meant for a society to live under a brutal dictatorship, with ethnic and sectarian divisions,” he said in a 2006 New Yorker profile. “You gotta come in with your ears open. You can’t come in and start talking. You have to really listen to people.”
The appointment, which does not require Senate approval, was widely praised on Capitol Hill.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a retired Navy captain and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he has known McMaster for many years.
“He is a man of genuine intellect, character and ability,” McCain said. “He knows how to succeed.”
In a 2014 Time profile of McMaster as one of the magazine’s annual list of “100 most influential people,” retired Army Lt. Gen. David Barno called his colleague “the 21st century Army’s pre-eminent warrior-thinker,” who has “repeatedly bucked the system and survived to join its senior ranks.”
Also Monday, Trump doubled down on his underlying belief that large-scale immigration can be dangerous.
His latest tweet on Sweden came after he was forced over the weekend to clarify a remark widely interpreted to falsely indicate there was a recent terror attack on the Scandinavian country.
“Give the public a break — The FAKE NEWS media is trying to say that large scale immigration in Sweden is working out just beautifully. NOT!” Trump tweeted without elaborating.
Trump returned to Washington, D.C., on Monday evening after his third straight working weekend at Mar-a-Lago. McMaster flew with him.
The president later this week is expected to release a revised travel ban intended to pass legal muster where his original executive order on immigration did not. The Associated Press reported that a draft of the new order targets the same seven Muslim-majority countries, but does not single out Syrian nationals for rejection in the visa application process.