Two sources within the White House tell me that last week McMaster had interviewed a potential replacement for Cohen-Watnick: longtime CIA official Linda Weissgold. Weissgold apparently had a good interview with McMaster, as she was overheard saying as she left the White House she would next have to “talk to Pompeo”—as in Mike Pompeo, the director of the CIA. But Weissgold was never offered the job; days later, Trump himself overruled the effort to move Cohen-Watnick out of his senior director role.
During the Obama administration Weissgold served as director of the CIA’s Office of Terrorism Analysis. She was among those who briefed Congress following the Benghazi terrorist attack in 2012, a team of intelligence and military experts who reportedly earned the nickname “the dream team” within the administration.
In her position at OTA, she was also involved directly in drafting the now infamous Benghazi talking points, which government officials revised heavily to include factually incorrect assessments that stated the attackers were prompted by protests. According to the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s report, Weissgold testified she had changed one such talking point to say that extremists in Benghazi with ties to al Qaeda had been involved in “protests” in the Libyan city, despite the fact that no such protests had occurred there on the day of the attack.