"General McMaster and I are working very well together", he said to The New York Times.
Trump also says McMaster "is a good man and very pro-Israel". "I am grateful for the work he continues to do serving our country", Trump said in a statement. Breitbart attacks quoting "administration officials" alleged McMaster opposed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appearing alongside Trump at the president's recent visit to the Western Wall. But multiple officials told BuzzFeed News that the main factors were differences between McMaster and Harvey on how the Middle East directorate should be managed as well as some heated discussions about Iran's presence in Syria during policy coordinating meetings. McMaster accompanied Trump to Israel last May, during which he had a three-hour conversation with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem. Trump wants to deal with the China issue - McMaster doesn't.
But McMaster's approach has also spawned a fierce rivalry with key players from Trump's campaign, led by chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who views Trump as a revolutionary figure on the world stage. In early August, McMaster pushed out Ezra Cohen-Watnick, whom Flynn had hired for the NSC and McMaster had tried to fire earlier in the year (he was blocked by Bannon and others from doing so).
One of those fired - Director for Strategic Planning, Rich Higgins - was canned last month after writing a memo that described threats to Trump's presidency to include globalists, bankers, the "deep state", and Islamists.
Campaign loyalists and allies of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn have been purged with increasing rapidity in recent weeks, and the battle for the NSC is developing by the day. In a recent Situation Room meeting, the president - who is frustrated by his options in Afghanistan - raised the idea of firing the top USA commander in Afghanistan and replacing him with McMaster, according to officials with knowledge of the discussion.
"For some time, Steve Bannon has been considering leaving the White House".
A senior administration official said Thursday that McMaster has written letters to all past national security advisers - including Rice - extending their security clearances.
Trump's efforts to cool speculation about McMaster's future seems to be another example of how new chief of staff John Kelly is bringing some order to the chaotic White House.
Conservative pro-Trump journalist Mike Cernovich created a new website this week dedicated to publishing leaks about McMaster.