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Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster has appointed Mike Barry to oversee the intelligence community on the National Security Council, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the decision.

Barry, who served in the intelligence community, replaces Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the intel operative who was appointed by Gen. Mike Flynn and gained notoriety as he fell out with McMaster and was eventually ousted, despite being in the unusual position of having warm relationships with both Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. (Barry's appointment was first foreshadowed — in pejorative terms — by Mike Cernovich, a controversial online foe of McMaster's.)

Why this matters: As special assistant to the president for intelligence programs, Barry will be crucial to the smooth functioning of President Trump's national security team, and will be responsible for aligning the intelligence community's policy with Trump's priorities. Barry will also manage covert action.

What we know about Barry: Not much, given the classification of the work he has been doing. A source familiar with his appointment told me:

Before Barry's service in the intelligence community, he served in the Air Force.H.R. McMaster asked CIA Director Mike Pompeo for recommendations for Cohen-Watnick replacements. Pompeo recommended Barry.Barry and McMaster bonded, partly "because they'd worked in similar environments," the source said.

Go deeper

Air quality alerts issued as California fires threaten more sequoias

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near the Trail of 100 Giants in Sequoia National Forest, near California Hot Springs, on Tuesday. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Two wildfires were threatening California's sequoia trees over overnight, hours after authorities issued fresh evacuation orders and warnings, along with air quality alerts on Wednesday.

The big picture: Officials in the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley issued air quality alerts as smoke from the Windy and KNP Complex fires resulted in hazy, "ash-filled" skies from Fresno to Tulare, the Los Angeles Times notes.

Asymptomatic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a September news conference in Viera, Fla. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Wednesday an emergency order allowing parents to decide whether their children should quarantine or stay in school if they're exposed to COVID-19, provided they're asymptomatic.

Why it matters: People infected with COVID-19 can spread the coronavirus starting from two days before they display symptoms, according to the CDC. Quarantine helps prevent the virus' spread.

Federal judge: Florida ban on sanctuary cities racially motivated

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down parts of a Florida law aimed at banning local governments from establishing sanctuary city policies, arguing in part that the law is racially motivated and that it has the support of hate groups.

Why it matters: In a 110-page ruling issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom said the law — signed and championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause because it was adopted with discriminatory motives.