Stephen Bannon removed from National Security Council

By Robert Costa and Abby Phillip, WaPo

President Trump on Wednesday removed controversial White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon from the National Security Council, part of a sweeping staff reshuffling that elevated key military and intelligence officials to greater roles on the council and left Bannon far less involved in shaping the administration’s day-to-day national security policy.

Two senior White House officials said Bannon’s departure was in no way a demotion and that he had rarely attended meetings since being placed on the council. They and others interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly on the issue.

Bannon’s place on the committee had been a subject of intense controversy when the move was announced in January. National security experts, including a former Obama administration official, characterized it as an elevation of a White House official with no national security experience, even while other national security officials in the administration were included on the NSC only when “issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise” were involved. The White House later added the director of the CIA to the NSC.

The White House strongly disputed that characterization, saying that Trump chose to change the structure of the committee from the one in place during the Obama administration to reduce the number of meetings in which senior intelligence officials were required to participate if they did not pertain to their areas of expertise.

Instead, one of the officials said, Bannon was put on the council early in the administration to guide and keep watch over then-national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was tasked with reshaping the operation. That official and a second official said Bannon did this from afar, attending one or two meetings of the group.

Bannon was there to “de-operationalize” the NSC from its Obama-era setup, the official added, and he feels that has been accomplished with Flynn and his successor H.R. McMaster and no longer feels the need to be part of the NSC.

[McMaster staffing NSC with traditional GOP foreign policy hands]

“There was a concern when this administration came in that the national security council under the prior administration had grown too large and had taken on operational responsibilities that were not properly its role,” the second official said. Bannon was placed on the committee “to help return the NSC to its proper policy coordinating role.”

The move followed days of discussions with top aides, including Bannon, about the scope of the adviser’s role moving forward and comes as McMaster — a three-star Army general and more traditional voice on security policy — has fully taken control of the council and its operations, according to five officials familiar with the decision.

It is the latest departure in the senior ranks of the White House. Last week, deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh left her post to take on a new role in a pro-Trump outside group, and Flynn was ousted in February after it was revealed that he misled Vice President Pence about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the transition.

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Trump’s NSC has also found itself embroiled in the controversy over Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Washington Post reported last week that three officials from the NSC collected and distributed documents to House Permanent Select Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who is investigating contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian officials during the election. Nunes held a news conference and briefed the president on those documents, which he said suggested that Trump associates were the subjects of incidental and legal surveillance by the Obama administration.

McMaster — who wrote a 1997 book, “Dereliction of Duty” about the importance of presidents receiving candid advice on military and national security policy — has become a rising and blunt force within the White House who has made clear to several top officials and the president that he does not want the NSC to have any political elements and while he understood Bannon’s role, it was not necessary for the president to have him there as the NSC was reorganized under McMaster’s leadership.

McMaster, who has become a conduit for foreign diplomatic leaders, has kept a low public profile since joining the administration, avoiding interviews and speeches. But inside the White House, he has gained significant influence and his plans for the council have largely been encouraged by the president’s closest aides.

Bannon retains his title and position and remains a confidant of the president who is working closely with other advisers on domestic and foreign policy.

In addition, according to the federal register, the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are being restored to the NSC’s principal’s committee, which was their role in the Obama administration. The director of the CIA has also been added to the principal’s committee.

April 6, 2017 | 4 Comments »

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4 Comments / 4 Comments

  1. @ MELECH david:

    I agree with Bannon and I don’t really know where Kushner stands, however, it is simply re-writing history to suggest that Kushner is some kind of opportunist who just jumped on Trump’s band wagon/gravy train at the last minute. He engineered Trump’s victory; Trump was going to lose with his last adviser.

    “Exclusive Interview: How Jared Kushner Won Trump The White House”

    Forbes, Dec. 2016

    “…”It’s hard to overstate and hard to summarize Jared’s role in the campaign,” says billionaire Peter Thiel, the only significant Silicon Valley figure to publicly back Trump. “If Trump was the CEO, Jared was effectively the chief operating officer.”

    “Jared Kushner is the biggest surprise of the 2016 election,” adds Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, who helped design the Clinton campaign’s technology system. “Best I can tell, he actually ran the campaign and did it with essentially no resources…”

    But, does this sound like a Democrat background where Israel is concerned?

    BY REUTERS FEBRUARY 1, 2017 19:32 ”

    “BET EL, West Bank – For many in the Israeli settlement of Bet El, deep in the West Bank, Donald Trump’s choice of Jared Kushner as his senior adviser on the Middle East is a sign of politics shifting in their favor.

    ‘They regard Kushner, whose family’s charitable foundation has donated tens of thousands of dollars to their settlement, as part of a diplomatic re-balancing after what they view as eight years of anti-Israel bias under the US administration of Barack Obama…”

    As for being just a lawyer who married into money — like Kerry. Not even close.

    “The most compelling figure in this intrigue, however, wasn’t in Trump Tower. Jared Kushner was three blocks south, high up in his own skyscraper, at 666 Fifth Avenue, where he oversees his family’s Kushner Companies real estate empire. Trump’s son-in-law, dressed in an impeccably tailored gray suit, sitting on a brown leather couch in his impeccably neat office, displays the impeccably polite manners that won the 35-year-old a dizzying number of influential friends even before he had gained the ear, and trust, of the new leader of the free world.” – ibid. Forbes

    He is a third generation Bielsky partisan


    —Operating in Western Belorussia (Belarus) between 1942 and 1944, the Bielski partisan group was one of the most significant Jewish resistance efforts against Nazi Germany during World War II.

    —While its members did fight against the Germans and their collaborators, the Bielski group leaders emphasized providing a safe haven for Jews, particularly women, children, and elderly persons who managed to flee into the forests.

    —Under the protection of the Bielski group, more than 1,200 Jews survived the war, one of the most successful rescue efforts during the Holocaust…”

    Holocaust Encyclopedia

    And, he owns the NY Observer though he transferred ownership to a family trust in January — like Trump.

    It also has a print edition that is sold on News Stands.

  2. Michael S Said:

    I suspect Kuchner, who can promote his agenda cunningly through Ivanka.

    what is cuchners agenda? all one knows of him is he is some type of lawyer married to money. is he another Hilary?

  3. This has all the makings of a palace conspiracy: Every move in the White House since Inauguration, seems to be contrary to the President’s original agenda. Since Bannon is being pushed out, we can safely assume that someone else is pulling the strings. I suspect Kuchner, who can promote his agenda cunningly through Ivanka.

  4. WaPo? not fake news, but the whole point of Bannon was to drain the NSC swamp. Mission accomplished, what’s next?

    The worst thing about American legacy media is they still dominate the echo on everything. Hope Bannon is working on THAT!