Trump drops Steve Bannon from National Security Council
WASHINGTONU.S. President Donald Trump removed his chief strategist Steve Bannon from the National Security Council on April 5, reversing his controversial decision early this year to give a political adviser an unprecedented role in security discussions.
Trump’s overhaul of the NSC, confirmed by a White House official, also elevated General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Dan Coats, the director of National Intelligence who heads all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies. The official said the change moves the NSC “back to its core function of what it’s supposed to do,” Reuters reported.
It also appears to mark a victory for national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who had told some national security experts he felt he was in a “battle to the death” with Bannon and others on the White House staff.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Bannon would continue to play an important role in policy and played down the shake-up as routine.
“This is just a natural evolution to ensure the National Security Council is organized in a way that best serves the president in resolving and making those difficult decisions,” Pence said on Fox News.
Bannon said in a statement he had succeeded in returning the NSC back to its traditional role of coordinating foreign policy rather than running it. He cited former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, for why he advocated a change.
“Susan Rice operationalized the NSC during the last administration so I was put on NSC to ensure it was ‘de-operationalized.’ General McMaster has NSC back to its proper function,” he said.
Trump’s White House team has grappled with infighting and intrigue that has hobbled his young presidency. In recent days, several other senior U.S. foreign policy and national security officials have said the mechanisms for shaping the Trump administration’s response to pressing challenges such as Syria, North Korea and Iran still were not in place.
Critics of Bannon’s role on the NSC said it gave too much weight in decision-making to someone who lacked foreign policy expertise.
Bannon, who was chief executive of Trump’s presidential campaign in the months leading to his election in November, in some respects represents Trump’s “America First” nationalistic voice, helping fuel his anti-Washington fervor and pushing for the president to part ways at times with mainstream Republicans.
Before joining the Trump administration, Bannon headed Breitbart News, a right-wing website.