On Wednesday, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was removed from President Trump’s National Security Council (NSC), according to a regulatory filing cited by Bloomberg. The shakeup also affected Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Bossert, whose role was downgraded after National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was granted sole agenda-setting power over the NSC.
“Under the move, the national intelligence director, Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, are again ‘regular attendees’ of the NSC’s principals committee,” reports Bloomberg.
Trump drew staunch criticism from both the Left and the Right as well as non-partisan foreign policy experts when he selected a political appointee with minimal experience in security matters to serve on a body tasked with assessing national security threats alongside the Commander-in-Chief.
Bannon, a former Breitbart executive, won favor with Trump after turning the far-right website into a propaganda arm of the Trump campaign. The website catered to perhaps the most disturbing elements of the Trump coalition, including the notoriously racist alt-right ethno-nationalist movement. At one point, Bannon even referred to Breitbart as a "platform for the alt-right."
According to a senior White House official, Bannon was only granted a spot on the NSC to babysit the now-disgraced National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, and reverse the policies of Susan "Benghazi" Rice, formerly President Obama’s deputy National Security Adviser. Notably, the same official claims that Bannon never actually attended an NSC meeting.
sr WH official tells me Bannon was only on NSC to keep an eye on Flynn & "de-operationalize NSC from Rice" & that he never went to a meeting— Rosie Gray (@RosieGray) April 5, 2017
"Job done," source says.— Rosie Gray (@RosieGray) April 5, 2017
Flynn left his post after allegedly lying to Vice President Mike Pence and other key administration officials about his contacts with Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. Flynn reportedly discussed the prospect of lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia over its imperialistic land-grab in Crimea. The unethical communications allegedly occurred prior to Trump’s election victory, raising disturbing questions about Flynn’s commitment to U.S. national security interests. For his part, Trump has claimed that he had no knowledge of Flynn’s communications with Kremlin officials.
However, White House officials now say that they have always had concerns about Flynn and his presence on the NSC.
Same official says the president made the decision, this was the deal from the beginning, and "we all knew Flynn had issues"— Rosie Gray (@RosieGray) April 5, 2017
If this is the case, the obvious question here is: why choose Flynn to begin with? Why give a man with financial links to the Kremlin access to classified and top secret national security information?
Since resigning, Flynn has registered as a foreign agent for the government of Turkey. In addition, a Congressional probe has been initiated to disentangle Flynn’s web of connections to Moscow.
If anything, Bannon’s abrupt departure from the NSC generates more questions than answers. Was he really just a glorified babysitter this entire time?