Trump, Bannon, & Kushner override National Security to keep Ezra Cohen-Watnick in power

The Trump Timeline

Sources linked at end of page.


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Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon lobby Donald Trump to overrule the top national security adviser’s efforts to transfer Ezra Cohen-Watnick to a different post. Trump does as asked.

Since taking over Michael Flynn’s role in the National Security Council (NSC), General H.R. McMaster has worked to identify other NSC officials who may be a risk to national security or working for other governments. Cohen-Watnick, the NSC’s senior intelligence director, raised red flags with both McMaster and the Central Intelligence Agency.

On Friday, March 10, McMaster notified Cohen-Watnick that he would be moving to a less powerful position within the NSC. Cohen-Watnick informed Kushner and Bannon that McMaster is demoting him, and they brought the matter to Trump.

That Cohen-Watnick, 31 years old and largely unknown before entering the administration, has become unfireable reveals how important he has become to the Trump White House, where loyalty is prized.


Just a couple weeks later, Cohen-Watnick identifies intelligence reports that he claims support Trump’s conspiracy that the Obama administration spied on his campaign. He sends those reports to the White House, and Assistant White House Counsel Michael Ellis forwards them to Rep. Devin Nunes.

The materials unearthed by Nunes have been used to defend President Trump’s baseless claims on Twitter that he had been wiretapped at Trump Tower under a surveillance operation ordered by then-President Barack Obama. FBI Director James B. Comey and others have said that claim is false.

The Washington Post

Both Ellis and Cohen-Watnick are promoted to higher positions within the DoD and NSA following the 2020 election for reasons still unknown.

Like many Trump officials, Cohen-Watnick is very interested in using the U.S. intelligence community and Dept. of Defense to destroy Iran. Aside from that, not much is known about him.

Before Flynn assigned him to the NSC, Cohen-Watnick worked under Flynn at the Defense Intelligence Agency. Then in 2016, Flynn brought him onboard the Trump transition team, whose members are later found to have had multiple backdoor meetings with Russian and other foreign officials before Trump was inaugurated.

Other “fun” facts about the mysterious Trump official:

During the 2016 election, he compared the Clinton campaign to Nazis.

He is family friends with Frank Gaffney, an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist and former Reagan official who founded the Center for Security Policy. Gaffney and his organization are also members of the infamous Council for National Policy.

If you know more about Ezra Cohen-Watnick’s life before Trump, please contact us.



The Atlantic

Washington Post (Archived)

The New York Times (Archived)

Photo: Public Domain

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