In an unanticipated shake-up, President Donald Trump has removed trusted adviser Steve Bannon from his National Security Committee, an official familiar with the abrupt decision said Wednesday, April 5.
The reshuffling of Trump’s security council will strengthen the roles of top-ranked intelligence and defense officials, including National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, who will gain greater control over both the NSC and Homeland Security Council, Bloomberg reported. At times, McMaster and Bannon were at odds over their stances on public issues.
A White House official painted the president’s decision as a logical progression rather than a demotion for the former Breitbart News executive. The official explained Bannon was initially granted a spot on the committee to keep an eye on Trump’s first appointed national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Flynn resigned in February after he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top White House officials about conversations he had with a Russian ambassador.
With Flynn out of the picture and McMaster in charge, Bannon is no longer needed, according to the unnamed official. Bannon had reportedly never even attended a NSC meeting.
The ousting of one of rump’s most contested advisers was applauded by politicians on both sides of the aisle who argued that Bannon’s appointment on a national security policy-making committee might politicize foreign policy.
In a tweet Wednesday, Republican Represenative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida described Bannon’s removal as “welcome news.”
Steve Bannon's removal from National Security Council is welcome news. I called for him to write himself out in Jan https://t.co/LX3hoWiEBH
— Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (@RosLehtinen) April 5, 2017
His removal as a member of the principals committee, which typically includes Cabinet-level officials, would restore the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, and intelligence director Dan Coats, while adding the energy secretary, CIA director and United Nations ambassador to the committee, The New York Times reported.
The role of Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, who had been granted authority to head the principals committee under Trump’s original NSC structure will be downgraded, however.
Another official with knowledge of the shake-up contended Bannon’s removal was in no way a sign that the president had lost confidence in him or wanted to scale back his portfolio. The former NSC member is expected to maintain his role in national security decisions and will still have the highest level of security clearance in the West Wing.