Report: Trump Screamed at McMaster Over South Korea Assurances

Says McMaster 'Undermined' Him Over Demand to Pay for Missile Defense

When President Trump demanded that South Korea pay for the $1 billion THAAD missile defense system being installed in South Korea, South Korean officials made it clear pretty quickly that wasn’t going to happen. They had an agreement signed, after all, and payment wasn’t part of it.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was quick to try to defuse the issue, insisting that the US would “adhere to our word” and pay for the THAAD, and that Trump’s talk of paying wasn’t official US policy. Apparently he didn’t talk to Trump about that before the call.

Several sources are now reporting that Trump was “furious” over McMaster’s comments to South Korea, got him on the phone and screamed at him, accusing him of “undermining him” on the plan to get South Korea to pay for THAAD.

This comes amid growing reports that McMaster has fallen out of favor within the administration, particularly with Trump, though the White House is insisting Trump still has every confidence in him. That’s not what insiders say, however, with many reporting Trump “regrets” McMaster as a replacement for the sacked Gen. Flynn as National Security Adviser.

Flynn lasted only a few weeks, and while McMaster has lasted a little over two months now, replacing him would likely be a struggle for the administration, he could still find himself the second-shortest serving National Security Adviser in US history.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

  • MvGuy

    Better this than nothing, but poor penance for his bate an skitz…

  • GStorm

    Trump likes firing people. It’s kind of what he did best before running for office. I see a trend starting.

  • maninthewilderness

    So Trump, the businessman, thinks he can change the terms of the deal after the contract has been signed? Who is going to do business with a man like that?

    • Ron Johnson

      Happens all the time in business. The negotiations don’t stop until the final payment is made. Yeah, it’s unethical, but if you want to do business with some people you have to expect some sharp dealings. Why would anyone do business with such people? Because they have lots of money.
      The irony is that sharp dealers like Trump only get away with it once, and the next time he tries to do a deal with the same company, he gets overcharged, which necessitates further sharp deals on Trump’s part.
      On the other hand, a person with a good reputation as an honest dealer allows his counterpart to factor-in the fact that there are no hidden surprises and will be offered a more competitive price up front.

      On the third hand, negotiating is a bare knuckle sport, especially in politics. By establishing an extreme negotiating position, you change the expectations of your counterpart and can move the deal significantly in your direction, even though you had no intention of really getting what you originally demanded. You can always change your demands downward, but it is very hard to change them upward without killing the deal entirely.

    • Floyd Hazzard

      Of course, it’s their security, he should be able to beat some funds out of RICH South Korea. Why does American taxpayers have to keep subsidizing well off countries like Europe, Japan, Israel and South Korea?
      And trust me, they would have paid for defence against North Korea’s nukes. No choice there really.

      • Ten Count Toronto

        The problem is that missile system isn’t really there for South Korea and they know it, they’d have no problem with the US taking it home. The real purpose of THAAD is US power projection and that’s why the US (that is, US TAXPAYERS) will end up covering it as long as the “axis of adults” is around to maintain foreign policy continuity.

        South Korea is a good customer for the US defense sector so there is no cut them off and no need to back out of the agreement to defend them from a North Korean INVASION which everyone knows will never happen as long the North is left alone to stew in it’s misery.

        • Luchorpan

          The defence sector should go into business for itself. The US government shouldn’t prop it up.

          Trump ought to fire the US base in SK.

    • JP McEvoy

      Who is going to do business with a man like that?

      Not people seeking a free lunch, that’s for sure.
      South Korea doesn’t want the damned thing anyway.
      Breaking a deal can be better than making a deal.

    • Steve Naidamast

      Trump has a history of reneging on signed contracts. Prior to his election he was under suit by no less than 1200 contract companies…

      • Idiotland

        The US also has a long history of doing the same thing so they’re a good match.

    • Jeffrey Fein

      This is national security business not some commercial contract. The President can do damn near whatever he pleases. Your “objection” is clueless, and I suspect borne of your anti-Trump partisanship. Bottom line: your opinion is the worthless spouting of a powerless nobody whose candidate lost and who chooses not to get over it.

      McMaster is no doubt a man of substantial self-importance — ie ego, but Trump is the big dog, the world leader in self-importance, the President of the United States, and ***McMaster’s boss***. So McMaster had better learn to do as he’s told,…. or resign,… or be fired. Trump just fired Comey — fantastic! — and personally, I think he should instantly fire McMaster as well, and should keep firing people right and left until he gets people who are smart enough to know who’s the boss.

      It goes without saying that the media will spin each and every firing as some sort of Trump “defeat”, in the continuing effort to weaken and discredit him. Fair enough, politics is a blood sport after all. But Trump is a fighter who doesn’t quit, and he is either going to win the fight or be subdued. It’s going to be a long fight, with many a twist and turn. Call me a Trump bot, or whatever name makes you feel good, but my money is on Trump. His penchant for firing is part of his “nimbleness” — his ability to rapidly adjust — to bob and weave — “to dance like a butterfly and sting like a bee”. Anti-Trump spin notwithstanding, it’s a feature not a bug.

      Battle is joined, the spectacle dazzles, the crowd roars. Three years eight months to go. Win or lose, I’m lovin’ it! MAGA.

      • “But Trump is a fighter who doesn’t quit”

        When did that become the case? In the business world, he was renowned for running as far away, as fast as he could, from his screwups, leaving others holding the bag. And as far as politics is concerned, he ran for president once before and dropped out. Fighting and not quitting would seem to be the exception rather than the rule with him.

        • Jeffrey Fein

          “In the business world, he was renowned for running as far away, as fast as he could, from his screwups, leaving others holding the bag.”

          Well, that’s an anti-Trump exaggeration from the fake-fact anti-Trump echo chamber. Nevertheless, two points: 1) When a battle or business venture goes bad the smart general or the smart businessman executes a strategic retreat. Minimize your losses, “live to fight another day”. “Beating it outta there is ***SMART*** (Oh my!) Stubbornly waiting around to get your clock cleaned is stupid.

          Did he leave others “holding the bag” as you say? Perhaps, but the implied indictment of his character flies in the face of what is perhaps ***the single most fundamental*** of business principles: in the no-quarter-given, rough and tumble of seriously big business, ruthless self protection is an essential skill. If you can’t handle the heat/the risk, stay out. The unwise and unprotected get eaten,… and they don’t get to complain. If others lost and Trump won, then, bottom line: Trump won,… and that’s the name of the game.

          • Trump’s genius is his presentation and salesmanship. He’s a standard-issue entitled rich northeastern establishment progressive welfare queen masquerading as something else. And for a certain part of the population, it works. Instead of noticing that he acts like what he is, they convince themselves that Jared Kushner is pulling his strings or whatever. His supporters will decry his actions but never, ever, ever hold him responsible for them. He’s a strong leader! (Except that everyone else in the world keeps duping him)

          • Luchorpan

            That’s not how his supporters view him… We liked his policy statements.

            Just to comment on one thing: In a recent interview, Trump displayed knowledge of Mexico’s border adjusted VAT. So, he does get trade. That is super rare among politicians.

            And I know your position on trade, but just hypothetically if you wanted to negotiate trade you’d hope for a president who did realise Mexico has a high VAT. That’s huge that he’s aware of it.

            I promise you, Mark Sanford (from SC) almost certainly has no idea what a VAT even is, let alone that Mexico uses one.

          • “That’s not how his supporters view him… We liked his policy statements.”

            Exactly.

            He suckered you, and now you find it confusing that he’s acting like what he is instead of like what he conned you into thinking he was.

          • Luchorpan

            I don’t feel suckered at all. At the very least, Candidate Trump opened a lot of eyes.

            He’s a change agent, and the argument was always that he’s the best choice and a gamble. Why should a billionaire care anything for Americans? Why indeed. Why should any of them care?

            He spoke what wasn’t meant to be spoken. Libertarians field candidates to get their voices heard; well, Trump got my voice heard, my arguments.

            Look at SK. Moon is now president. Would that have happened under Hillary? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Change agent 🙂

          • Well, you’re welcome to not feel suckered, I guess. The best kind of con is presumably the kind where the victim never even notices.

            Trump’s picture should be in the dictionary next to the phrase “business as usual.”

          • Luchorpan

            I once read praise for America’s system of government: The best slave masters don’t call attention to themselves and allow their slaves to believe themselves free.

            I used to cringe whenever Bush or really any other Republican would talk. Because the ideas they’d espouse would be so awful. Trump has introduced a bit more reality at least into the theoretical Republican narrative. A bit more reality is a bit more mental freedom and clarity.

            You support open borders and free trade for somewhat understandable reasons. Republicans however… Not the brightest group. They believe “free trade” is always best for each trading partner and also believe we have free trade currently.

            It’s just remarkably stupid group of people. They cheer on special interests believing them to be “nationalist”. And they promote “ideological nationalism”. Trump exploded all of that.

            And his comments on foreign policy helped open minds there. Spooks spying on Trump and also Wikileaks’s support has led to better views on domestic spying.

            So, the end result is very positive for my interests.

            You seem to be of the false opinion that I’ve been tricked. I have not been. I look at the results. I’ve followed conservative groups for years. I have never never seen my interests and arguments out in the open like this before.

            People like me are usually hammered down with accusations of: “You’re not a ‘true conservative,'” and “I have never heard a conservative of your type.”

            Now at least I exist! People who get involved in politics tend to be extraordinarily stupid. So, this is a huge win. A large percentage of the population cannot reason. They refuse to even consider alternative ideas. Trump has burst that hypnotic control that was placed on American conservatives.

            All through the campaign we saw, “But he’s not conservative.” Now, Trump is seen as “Mr. Conservative”, as if he were Russell Kirk himself. And Buchanan is praised.

            Your reply might be, “Well he doesn’t intend all of these effects.” So what? Results matter.

          • Free trade IS always best for each trading partner. The reason two parties enter into an exchange is because each party considers itself better off for that exchange. I have a dollar but would rather have a loaf of bread. You have a loaf of bread but would rather have a dollar. We both win.

            Of course, no, we don’t have “free trade.” We have “free trade agreements” that come to thousands of pages of regulation on trade.

            I have no opinion on whether or not you’re a “true conservative.” On the other hand, if you do in fact believe what you claim to believe, yes, you were tricked by Trump and are now continuing to trick yourself. While that’s sad from my perspective, I’m glad that it’s joyous enough from yours that you’re willing, and apparently able, to continue living in a dream world.

          • Luchorpan

            No, free trade is not always advantageous to each partner. The argument for free trade is that it’s advantageous to the overall free trading market economy as a whole. That is not the same as each individual member benefiting most.

            The reason you should support free trade is to promote globalism and on the hope that it leads to a stateless world.

            You should see through that free trade does not mean each individual trading partner benefits most. You should understand what you support, both the positives and the negatives.

            Regarding Trump, we miscommunicated there, but I’ll just drop it. He very much serves my interests. And I believe certain things about him, not quite what you seem to believe me to believe.

          • Value is subjective, and in a free market an exchange only takes place if both parties subjectively evaluate themselves as being better off for said exchange.

            Note that the above sentence ended with a period. It is THE fundamental and irrefutable concepts of economics. It IS how the world works. You don’t have to like that that’s how the world works. That’s how the world works whether you like it or not.

          • Luchorpan

            What I meant is this: If you have two free trade regions (eg. the United States being one), one or both regions can each benefit from some trade protections.

            If both regions combine into a single free trade region, the new region as a whole does benefit; but one region might have benefited more overall by maintaining protections.

            Plus you tend to have cheating. So, two regions might agree to free trade but then one or the other might then attempt to cheat.

            I just think it’s important to mention how protections can be beneficial to a particular free trade region.

            Friedrich List explained it with regard to Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations”: The focus wasn’t on the wealth of a single nation but on the wealth of nations, plural. A single nation-state can benefit from protections.

            You can’t hope to destroy nationalists like me if you don’t understand us. 🙂 Even if the US has bad trade, which yes is not free trade, Asia and others do use protections. So, it’s important to understand. The US won’t be king forever. Perhaps China will be the next monster, if it can fix some problems.

          • “What I meant is this: If you have two free trade regions (eg. the United States being one), one or both regions can each benefit from some trade protections.”

            Correction: Privileged classes within one or both regions can benefit from some trade protections, at the expense of everyone else..

            Trade protections are corporate welfare. That’s all they’ve ever been, that’s all they are now, and that’s all they ever will be.

          • Luchorpan

            Certainly abuses are common. And US trade today is extraordinarily corrupt.

            But protectionist trade often does serve the interests of a trade region, as well as the privileged.

            It’s not black or white. Often what you have is grey (meaning some corruption, some positive impact).

            Anyway, ty for the reply.

          • Luchorpan

            I rather liked how he left others “holding the bag”. He allowed in investors, didn’t force them to invest.

            If Trump had left himself vulnerable, he’d be broke and a fool for it.

            When the market turns, it turns. Even Icahn had to close the casino he purchased recently.

  • longlance

    Get McMaster out of there. He is a clear & present danger to U.S. national security.

    • curmudgeonvt

      IMO, its the top two chairs in the Executive Office who are the true “clear & present danger to U.S. national security.”

    • Eileen Kuch

      I agree with you 100% .. McMaster’s more of a threat to US national security than Flynn ever was. Donald Trump made a HUGE mistake appointing McMaster to replace Flynn anyway, and look what that lunatic’s done since. Trump must fire him immediately (he already fired James Comey .. Finally). What he must do now is fire McMaster and replace him with an experienced individual who’ll put US national security ahead of his/her own.
      McMaster had NO right whatsoever to give South Korea any assurances without consulting Trump, who happens to be his boss. I don’t blame Trump for chewing him out, but he has to fire this guy .. He’s a clear and present danger to US national security. Period.

      • John_Smith001

        Flynn? The guy on the payroll of the Turkish government? Looks like we would be screwed either way.

      • PxThucydides

        McMaster was far and away the most qualified military man available for the job. The problem is putting a military man in the job in the first place. The problem with military men is that they have one thing in common- Eisenhower notwithstanding. They like war. They are inclined to recommend it.

        But this whole thing is just a Game of Thrones play by Littlefinger (AKA Steve Bannon) to take back control. Who’s putting out stories about McMaster’s troubles? Brietbart. Bannon’s not gone yet. He’s working on his comeback.

        We will see whether McMaster can figure out the game before he is stabbed- again, fatally this time.

  • dieter heymann

    Our nation has been turned into The Apprentice.

    • Luchorpan

      Good. The Swamp needs a good firing.

      • JP McEvoy

        As in ” ready, aim – bang!”

  • JP McEvoy

    Best news I’ve heard since the Comey firing!
    Keep ’em coming!

  • walt

    Time to dump the neocons. Make SKorea pay, or let them get run over by that nut in the North. Why does any American care about SKorea is beyond me. Are we still worried about the “dominoes”?

    • TellTheTruth-2

      >>>>>> Time to dump the neocons. <—— I'll second and third that. Motion carries.

    • John_Smith001

      Americans don’t care about South Korea, they care about having a foothold in the far east.

    • Luchorpan

      I “care” in that S Korea is a nice place. But I’m hoping Moon can bring peace and perhaps actual reunification.

      I expect S Korea would be better off without us. We could give them 2 yrs to build a military, to stand on their own.

  • TellTheTruth-2

    If you make a hiring mistake; it’s better to fix it sooner than later.

    • Luchorpan

      Well said! This is an opportunity.

  • eric

    Why doesn’t Trump try his non policing and anti intervention policy right off the bat . If it doe not work we can always go in with our bombers . But it is impossible to un-bomb un-kill some body . This is the policy Trump ran on and the American people seemed to agree with this policy .

  • Schmizer

    Some of these Generals/Admirals make statements like they make policy, instead of obeying orders from the policy-makers.

  • John_Smith001

    So it was okay for his Secretary of State to undermine him but not his National Security advisor? For the record, if i were president I would be pretty upset at both.

    • PxThucydides

      Seems to me if you’re keeping score, Trump’s been directly contradicted by just about everyone who works for him. Mattis: “Nato is important”. Haley: “Russia is bad”. Tillerson: “No deals till Crimea is returned.” Kelly: “You can tunnel under a wall.”

      If Trump gets yelling whenever one of his people contradicts him, he’s going to be doing a lot of yelling.

      • John_Smith001

        He needs to do a little more firing in the right places, because he is looking like either a weak president or a fraud.

  • Donna Volatile

    Trump’s admin. is getting out of hand because he does not know what he is doing and he has appointed people in direct opposition to his campaign promises. He is either incompetent or he is a scam artist. Take your pick.

    • Luchorpan

      He’s new to politics. Hopefully he comes around.

  • Luchorpan

    My theory: So many have accused Trump of being an “authoritarian” that he’s allowed his cabinet greater freedom.

    McMaster has done that before. He doesn’t respect Trump.

    And Trump’s team just isn’t together yet. He’s hired standard Republicans when Trump the Candidate did not run as a standard Republican.

    Trump believed he needed to distinguish himself from other Republicans to win, and that proved correct. But he ended up leading a revolution. I hope he keeps to that revolution.

    On foreign policy, I’d understood he’d, for example, allow Korea to reunite. And take the opposite side there from previous administrations.

    It’s a tremendous opportunity for him now to work together with Moon towards just such unity. He could swoop in, take a great slice of credit. He’d be widely praised, except by the evil Neocons.