In a shake up of staff to the National Security Council, President Trump removed White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon from his role on the National Security Council’s Principles Committee on Wednesday.
White House sources revealed National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster ultimately made the decision to remove Bannon and persuaded Mr. Trump to restore the NSA’s Principles Committee to its previous posture prior to Bannon’s arrival.
White House officials also insist the deed is in no way a demotion for Bannon and he is widely expected to maintain his influence over White House policy. Bannon was reportedly placed on NSC staff to oversee Trump’s original national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
“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,” Bannon said in a statement.
Coinciding with Bannon’s removal, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford have had their traditional roles restored to the committee and will be joined by UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
It is believed Bannon rarely attended a Principles Committee meeting, but nonetheless was appointed shortly after Trump’s inauguration.
In an move viewed as irregular on Jan. 28, Trump added Bannon to the committee amid criticism he lacked national security experience.
Wednesday’s decision to remove Bannon does not preclude him from attending national security meetings, but means he will no longer be automatically invited to each one.
Despite some White House officials downplaying the NSC staff change, others close to President Trump contend Bannon is suspicious of son-in-law Jared Kushner due to the latter’s overriding neo-liberal approach to politics which clash with the former’s right-wing populism.
The Bannon-Kushner rivalry is a microcosm of on-going tension in the Trump White House “between nationalists and the West Wing Democrats,” a source close to Bannon told Politico.
“You have these New York interlocutors who are just not political and who want to think that they’re above the way Washington thinks, but if anybody is allied on delivering on things that Trump ran on, it’s Bannon and Reince and the vice president,” the GOP insider said.
[Reuters] [Bloomberg] [Politico] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via CNN Money]