Often on the Sunday shows it’s not clear what the showcase interview of the morning will be. Not today. The man to watch is H.R. McMaster, who’ll be the lead guest on “This Week.” McMaster was present in the Oval Office for the infamous meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador at which Trump (a) allowed in a Russian state-media photographer, risking a security breach, (b) allegedly disclosed the general location of a key Israeli intelligence asset against ISIS, and (c) reportedly called Jim Comey a “nutjob” and told the Russians that firing him would take some of the “pressure” off from the Russiagate probe. Likely first question from Stephanopoulos to McMaster: WTF?
He’ll also probably be asked about this CNN report on him doing damage control about Trump supposedly blabbed to the Russians about ISIS:
McMaster was asked to publicly step before the cameras Monday night and deny the story, Trump administration sources familiar with the matter told CNN, which demoralized some members of his own NSC…
McMaster’s statement that night, after which he took no questions, and his appearance in the press room the next day, upset some on his staff, multiple sources tell CNN. One knowledgeable source told CNN that there was a feeling among some on the NSC that the McMaster statements to the press were less than worthy of his reputation for honesty and candor and done solely to protect the President — who then turned around and seemed to undermine on Twitter what McMaster had said in person to reporters…
Beyond dealing with Trump, sources tell CNN that McMaster is also forced to devote “too much of his time” to internal White House politics instead of national security matters, fending off challenges from White House strategist Stephen Bannon, senior adviser Jared Kushner and even the NSC chief of staff, retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, whom the source described as “directly attempting to undermine McMaster.”
There are other scandal-related matters to discuss, like Mike Flynn becoming NSA after the White House knew he was under federal investigation and Trump allegedly leaning on Jim Comey to “go easy” on Flynn in February, but the only administration officials booked as of Saturday are McMaster and Rex Tillerson, who’ll be on “Fox News Sunday.” Both specialize in foreign policy and will want to steer the conversation around to Trump’s Middle East trip this week; both could also plausibly decline comment on Comey and Flynn on grounds that those subjects, as well as the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel on Russiagate, aren’t part of their portfolios. There may be no White House aide on the air today to do damage control after a week of bombshells. Which is likely a reflection of the fact that there’s not much control that can be exerted over this degree of damage.
Elsewhere this morning, outgoing Oversight Committee chair Jason Chaffetz will follow McMaster on “This Week” to discuss the prospect that he’ll subpoena Comey’s alleged memo recounting Trump’s attempt to influence him. With Chaffetz leaving Congress soon and Mueller now on the case, that may never happen. And John McCain will follow Tillerson on “Fox News Sunday” to dump all over Trump, as is his habit on Sunday mornings. The full line-up is at the AP.