Kate Brannen & Spencer Ackerman report:
Russia Hawk Axed From National Security Council Right Before Trump-Putin Summit
Retired Col. Richard Hooker is pro-NATO, skeptical of Russia, and out at the White House.
Shortly before Donald Trump detonated a NATO summit, shanked the beleaguered British prime minister and prepped for a face-to-face love session with Vladimir Putin, his White House quietly divested itself of a senior official hawkish on Russia and bullish on the transatlantic military alliance.
The circumstances of retired Army Colonel Richard Hooker’s departure from the National Security Council on June 29 are in dispute. It’s not clear whether Hooker was forced out or if his detail on the NSC came to its natural end. But what’s not in doubt is that for the past 15 months, Hooker was senior director for Russia, Europe and NATO.
And just as his new boss, National Security Adviser John Bolton, was preparing to travel to Moscow to meet with Putin on June 27 to lay the groundwork for Trump’s visit, Hooker was packing up his desk. Now, he’s headed back to the National Defense University, the crown jewel of the Pentagon’s cross-service military-education system, which had loaned him to the NSC. Hooker is the latest NSC staffer to leave as Bolton reconfigures the influential policymaking body in his image. Like Hooker, Bolton has long viewed Russia a strategic threat to the United States, and accused Putin of lying to Trump about interfering in the 2016 election.
Hooker, who is highly respected in military circles, would not comment for this story, and an NSC spokesperson declined to comment on the record as well. But many sources familiar with him portrayed him as the sort of consensus defense official common in both Republican and Democratic administrations in the pre-Trump era.
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If this was just one incident, nobody would blink an eye. But instead, this is another incident where Trump’s sycophancy to Putin is policy. Or what passes for Trumpianism policy.
You’d think Putin is Trump’s boss or something…