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Travel Pool 3a: McMaster announcement
Michael Memoli • Los Angeles Times
February 20, 2017: 03:16 PM


(with thanks from co-pooler Jenna Johnson of Washington Post.)

Pool entered the living room of Mar-a-lago at 2:52pm to find POTUS, in a dark suit and red tie, sitting on a dotted cream colored love seat with Gen. McMaster, in uniform, to his right. Kellogg, in a suit, was to his left. Behind him was a large bouquet of red roses.

POTUS waited for pool to assemble and then delivered a statement as soft Muzak played overhead. Please check quotes against a transcript, if such a thing is distributed.

"I just wanted to announce, we've been working all weekend very diligently ... that Gen. H.R. McMaster will become the national security advisor. He's a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience. I watched and read a lot over the last two days. He is highly respected by everyone in the military and we're very honored to have him.

"He also has known for a long time, Keith Kellogg, who I also have gotten to know this terrific man. They will be working together. And Keith is going to be chief of staff. And I think that combination is something very, very special.

"I met with many other people. I have tremendous respect for the people I met with. I know John Bolton, we'll be asking him to work with us in a somewhat different capacity. ... We had some really good meetings with him. Knows a lot. He had a good number of ideas that I must tell you I agree very much with. So we'll be talking with John Bolton in a different capacity. And we'll be talking to some of the other generals that I've met. But I really, really gained a lot of respect for."

He then asked both men to speak.

McMaster: "President, thank you very much. I would just like to say what a privilege it is to be able to continue serving our nation. I'm grateful to you for that opportunity, and I look forward to joining the national security team and doing everything that I can to advance and protect the interests of the American people. Thank you very much."

[McMaster and the president then shook hands]

POTUS: "You're going to do a great job. General?"

Kellogg: "Mr. President, thank you for the opportunity to continue to serve. I'm very honored by it, very privileged by it. And I'm very honored and privileged to serve alongside with H.R. McMaster, I've known for years as well. He's a great statesman, a great Sargent. Thank you, sir."

POTUS: "What a team. This is a great team. We're very, very honored. Our country is lucky to have two people like this and frankly, after having met so many of the people in the military, we're lucky to have all of them. So thank you all very much. I'll see you back in Washington. We're leaving now. Thank you."

As the three men stood to leave, reporters shouted out several questions, with several asking the president if McMaster would have the power to hire his own staff. None of the men answered any of the questions. They then walked out of the Mar-a-Lago club's living room, exiting onto a terrace, where they were joined by members of the president's staff.

Pool returned to vans and are holding.



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