Former Obama Senior Adviser and Democratic strategist David Axelrod said on Monday that President Trump is in completely uncharted waters when it comes to his appointment of Steve Bannon to the National Security Council.
“Ten days in, this much is clear: Steve Bannon is playing a role in national security and foreign policy for which there is no precedent,” he said in a new op-ed for CNN. “And for better or worse, he already is making an impact.”
Titling the piece “I woke up this morning as an alternative fact,” Axelrod contradicted White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s statements earlier in the day that Axelrod’s role in the Obama White House as support for Bannon’s appointment, saying that Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Axelrod attended classified National Security Council meetings “all the time.”
The former Obama aide said of Spicer’s account “That is simply not true.”
Axelrod, who also served as Chief Strategist for both of Obama’s presidential campaigns added “As a senior adviser to President Obama in 2009, I had the opportunity to witness the fateful deliberations of his National Security Council Principals committee over the strategy the U.S would pursue in the war with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
“I was not a member of the committee. I did not speak or participate. I sat on the sidelines as a silent observer with Gibbs because we would be called upon to publicly discuss the president’s decision on that critical matter and the process by which he arrived at it.”
“In elevating Bannon to sit with the Secretaries of Defense and State and other key national security figures on the NSC principals committee, President Trump has blazed new ground,” Axelrod said, adding, “Bannon will exercise authority no political adviser has had before. He will be a full participant, not an observer in national security deliberations.”
He distinguished his role further by pointing out that “Our access also came with limits. We were barred from some of the most sensitive meetings on the Afghanistan-Pakistan policy review so as to not inhibit discussions. Beyond that, Gibbs and I did not attend regular meetings of the NSC Principals committee or their deputies nor were we invited to weekly meetings on terrorist threats.”
Trump’s executive order over the weekend reorganized the NSC by placing Bannon on it, and by removing the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, adding that they would only attend meetings for “issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise.”
Bannon’s addition has angered both Democrats and Republicans alike on the grounds that nationals security decisions should be made apart from political concerns.