Wednesday, September 22, 2021

the last book I ever read (I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year, excerpt sixteen)

from I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker:

Ezra Cohen-Watnick was one of three Trump loyalists who had been installed in senior roles at the Pentagon on November 10. Cohen-Watnick, thirty-four, who would later go by the name Ezra Cohen, denied saying anything negative about Milley. He had been named acting under secretary of defense for intelligence, which gave him control of the military’s intelligence and counterintelligence operations. At the start of the administration, he had been hired onto the NSC by Michael Flynn and was controversial for both his hawkish ideology and his bureaucratic knife-fighting, as well as for being accused of sharing intelligence reports with his former boss, Congressman Devin Nunes, which Cohen-Watnick had denied. CIA officials complained about working with him. After just seven months on the job, he was pushed out by Flynn’s successor, H. R. McMaster. The national security adviser had tried unsuccessfully to remove Cohen-Watnick earlier that year, but later got important backup from Kelly, who had just begun as chief of staff and had received his own warnings aobut the aide from intel officials. Cohen-Watnick later served as national security adviser to the attorney general Jeff Sessions and then in a pair of Pentagon jobs that did not require Senate confirmation.

As part of a broader shakeup, Tony Tata, sixty-one, was tapped to perform the duties of the under secretary for policy—even though his nomination for that position has previously crumbled when not enough Senate Republicans would support it. Now he was performing the job without Senate confirmation. A retired army brigadier general, Tata had been a frequent guest on Fox News and promoted conspiracy theories, including falsely claiming that President Obama was Muslim and a “terrorist leader,” and that the CIA had sought to assassinate Trump.

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