Trump Removes Stephen Bannon From National Security Council Post
WASHINGTON – During the first 10 weeks of President Trump’s administration, no councilor appeared more in the public imagination than Stephen K. Bannon, the crude and wrinkled former president of Breitbart News, who calls himself a “virulently anti-establishment” revolutionary ” Administrative State “.
But behind the chambers, White House officials said that the ideologue who enjoyed the president’s confidence became increasingly overwhelmed, while other advisers, including Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, complained about setbacks in Medical care and immigration. Lately, Mr. Bannon has been conspicuously absent from some meetings. And now he has lost his seat at the national security table.
In a move that was widely seen as a sign of a changing fortune, Mr. Trump removed Mr. Bannon, his chief strategist, from the National Security Council’s board of directors Wednesday. The turn was orchestrated by Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, who insisted on purging a political adviser to the Situation Room where decisions are made about war and peace.
Mr. Bannon resisted the measure, even threatening to quit if he moved in a moment, according to a White House official who, like others, insisted on maintaining anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Mr. Bannon’s camp denied that he had threatened to resign and spent the day spreading the news that change was a natural evolution, not a sign of a diminished influence.
His allies privately said that Mr. Bannon had been put on the board of directors to keep an eye on Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, a retired three-star general who lasted only 24 days Before being expelled for deception Vice President Mike Pence and other officials of the White House on what he had discussed with the Russian ambassador. With Mr. Flynn gone, these allies said, there was no need for Mr. Bannon to remain, but they noticed that he had kept his security clearance.
Trump Removes Stephen Bannon From National Security Council Post
“Susan Rice operationalized N.S.C. during the last administration,” Bannon said in a statement, referring to President Barack Obama’s national security adviser. “They put me in N.S.C. with General Flynn to make sure it was de-operationalized.” General McMaster has returned N.S.C. to his own function. ”
Mr. Bannon did not explain what he understood as “operationalized” or how his presence on the committee had assured him that he would not be.
It was a further drama in a White House consumed by the intrigue of the palace, where officials jockey for the president’s ear, the angle of authority and seek guilt over political defeats. Even when Mr. Bannon lost a national security credential, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior counselor, appears to act as a shady secretary of state, visiting Iraq and taking over the portfolios of China, Mexico, and the Middle East.
Mr. Bannon’s many enemies, inside and outside the White House, celebrated what they saw as a defeat for his brand of fiery nationalist politics.
“It did not belong to the board of directors to begin with – it really does not belong at all to the White House,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, the high-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “I hope this is a sign that McMaster is taking control of the National Security Council.”
Karl Rove – who, as senior adviser to President George W. Bush, was not allowed to join national security meetings – said it was a move toward a better process. “It was bad for him to be added in the first place, and it was right to take him out,” he said.
Even if Mr. Bannon was really removed just because there was no longer any need for anyone to care about Mr. Flynn, Mr. Rove added, the end result was a victory for General McMaster. “It’s a sign of McMaster’s strength, or the result is that it reinforces McMaster,” he said.
However, Mr. Bannon, who has been attacked from outside the administration since the early days of transition, is an astute survivor, and insiders warned that it would be a mistake to underestimate him. When General McMaster wanted to fire a staff member, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, Mr. Bannon intervened to save his job.
Mr. Cohen-Watnick had alerted his colleagues that Mr. Trump’s associates had been caught up in the surveillance of foreigners, information then shown by another White House official to Rep. Devin Nunes, a Republican of California and president of the House Intelligence Committee, Intrusion in last year’s elections.
James Jeffrey, Bush’s deputy national security advisor, said that General McMaster seemed to have “scored one in the presumably more powerful Bannon,” but warned against reading too much about what it meant to Mr. Bannon. “He seems to be very close to the president and, according to most accounts, still wins many of his battles,” Jeffrey said.
From the beginning, General McMaster intended to renew the organization of the National Security Council which he inherited from Mr. Flynn. The committee of directors, headed by the national security adviser and including the vice president, secretary of state, secretary of defense and others, is the main policy-making body that decides issues that do not rise to the level of the president and that frame those what to do.
The initial structure approved by Mr. Trump not only gave Mr. Bannon the official membership of the committee, but also reduced the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence to occasional participants according to Demands.
In addition to removing Mr. Bannon, the new order issued by Mr. Trump, dated Tuesday and rendered public Wednesday, reinstated the chairman of the Board of Chiefs and director of intelligence and added energy secretary, C.I.A. Director and ambassador of the United Nations. He also put the National Security Council under General McMaster instead of turning it into a separate entity, as Trump’s original order had done.
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Mr. Trump was angry about the consequences of his first order, feeling that he had not been properly warned of its implications. He briefly considered reversing the same weekend that was announced, according to a person with direct knowledge, but decided against it for fear of creating more of a public storm.
During the first two months of Mr. Trump’s presidency, Mr. Bannon occupied an unassailable position on the president’s side, traversing key elements of his eclectic and harsh populist agenda, including two executive orders on the freezing of immigration of several Predominantly Muslim countries. Mr. Trump saw Mr. Bannon as a kindred spirit of street fighting who favored his own attack communication strategy when he attacked.
But the mistakes made by Mr. Bannon’s team – especially the first immigration order, rejected by multiple courts – have undermined his position. His take-no-prisons style was not a winning strategy on Capitol Hill, and Mr. Bannon refused to take a significant part. Experienced politicians, including Mr. Pence and Mr. Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney, moved into more expansive roles as negotiations over failed health care review continued.
Initially, Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Bannon’s final message to opponents in the House Freedom Caucus. But, in need of a victory, the President grew skeptical and authorized Mr. Pence to resume talks on health care, with Mr. Bannon playing a more supportive role, according to three people close to Mr. Trump.
Mr. Bannon has also disagreed with Gary Cohn, the president’s national economic adviser. Mr. Cohn is close to Mr. Kushner, who has privately said that he fears Mr. Bannon will play the president’s worst impulses, according to people with direct knowledge of such discussions.