Steve Bannon, whose resume includes investment banking at Goldman Sachs and providing a platform for white nationalists at Breitbart, has been removed from the National Security Council. President Trump himself made the decision to ax Bannon from the key foreign policy and decision making panel, The New York Times reports, though the shakeup was engineered by National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster.
McMaster inherited a bizarre national security infrastructure when he replaced General Mike Flynn, whose otstavka the president demanded after it emerged that Flynn lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. That setup saw Bannon claim a permanent seat on the council’s “principals committee,” while the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—the nation’s top military officer—and the Director of National Intelligence—the nation’s top intelligence officer—were relegated to “occasional” invitations to committee meetings.
In the order made public today, Bannon was removed, while the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the DNI were reinstated as permanent council members. CIA Director Mike Pompeo and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley were also added. But the president wasn’t done. He needed one more razor-sharp mind with plenty of experience in the foreign policy arena to round out his core national security squad. So he turned to one man: former Texas governor and Star Who Was Danced With Rick Perry.
Perry was eliminated from the nation’s premier celebrity dance competition after his paso doble didn’t measure up to that of Vanilla Ice. He heads up the Department of Energy, which many have speculated is the Oops Department he once failed to recall on the debate stage. Since Energy oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpiles, the Energy Secretary’s role on the National Security Council makes perfect sense. Especially when it’s Secretary Rick Perry.
But, hey! Steve Bannon’s gone.
President Donald Trump has removed Steve Bannon, his chief strategist, from the National Security Council, according to a filing in the federal registry.
As part of the shakeup announced Wednesday, two officials were added back to the NSC’s Principals Committee: the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford. Also added to the Principals Committee: Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. (Note: During the 2016 POTUS Campaign Perry said the Dept. he now heads (Energy) should be done away with).
A senior White House official told NBC News that the changes were not the result of any “power struggle” within the administration.
Bannon was given a seat on the Principals Committee only as a check against then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, the official said. Now that Flynn is gone, Bannon is no longer needed in that role, the official said.
Another administration official said the changes were orchestrated by Flynn’s replacement as NSA, H.R. McMaster, who was given authority to reorganize when he was brought on.
Bannon, a former executive for Breitbart News, had attended only one NSC meeting. He keeps his security clearance, according to the senior White House official.
Trump’s decision in January to put Bannon, a political operative, on the NSC drew criticism from some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, with Sen. John McCain, R.-Ariz., calling it a “radical departure.”
After the reversal Wednesday, Sen. Ben Cardin, D.-Maryland, said he was happy to hear about it.
“My hope is that he would have no role in government at all, that he be completely out because I do think that is not the type of advice the president should be receiving in regards to diversity and tolerance and the values of our country,” Cardin said.
Former NSC spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement that Bannon’s removal was a “welcome, if belated, first step.”
“The removal of Steve Bannon is as overdue as the addition of leading military and intelligence advisors, whose information and counsel have long been critical to the formulation of U.S. foreign policy,” Price said.