President Trump has reportedly removed his Chief White House Strategist, and one of the architects of his election victory, Steve Bannon from his controversial role on the National Security Council.
Bannon was added to the NSC in January obtaining a seat on the NSC principals committee, in an unprecedented move which was roundly criticized by lawmakers and political leaders on both sides of the aisle. As part of the move, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence — the position that oversees coordination among all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies — were downgraded.
In the latest shakeup, both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence have had their roles restored on the principals committee, according to the report by Bloomberg.
An official at the White House explained that Bannon was elevated to the position on the NSC in part to monitor Trump’s original National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, noting that Bannon never attended a meeting. As Flynn has been fired, he is no longer needed on the committee. The official did not elaborate any other motivations behind elevating Bannon — as Flynn was only a part of it — nor whether or how those goals had been met. It is also unclear what possible monitoring function Bannon could have had if he never attended a meeting or why Flynn would be placed on the NSC in the first place if he needed to be monitored.
The move does follow some perceived tensions with General McMaster, the current Nationals Security Adviser, whose request for removal of at least one other controversial National Security Council member — Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who was flagged by the CIA — denied.
In a statement to the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Bannon tried to downplay the move by arguing that Trump’s current National Security Adviser, Lt. General H.R. McMaster had “returned the NSC to its proper function” while at the same time jabbing at President Obama’s former Nationals Security Adviser.
“Susan Rice operationalized the NSC during the last administration. I was put on to ensure that it was de-operationalized. General McMaster has returned the NSC to its proper function,” he said.