President Donald Trump reorganized his National Security Council on Wednesday, removing chief strategist Stephen Bannon from a key committee and restoring the roles of top intelligence and defense officials, according to a person familiar with the decision and a notice published in the Federal Register.
The realignment increases the influence of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, whose public stances were sometimes at odds with those of Bannon.
In addition to gaining greater control over the NSC, McMaster will have the Homeland Security Council under his authority.
The change downgrades the role of Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, who had been given authority to convene or chair the NSC’s principals committee under Trump’s original structure.
Trump downgraded their roles and put Bannon on the committee in a Jan. 28 memorandum.
Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, is one of Trump’s most trusted and controversial advisers.
He has channeled the populist and nationalist sentiment that propelled Trump’s presidential campaign, and his placement on the NSC committee drew criticism from some members of Congress and Washington’s foreign policy establishment who said it risked politicizing the security advice provided to the president.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, contended that Bannon was placed on the committee in part to monitor Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and never attended a meeting.
A second White House official said that Trump was never comfortable with Bannon on the panel, but that his removal didn’t indicate any erosion of his influence within the White House.
Bannon will retain his security clearance, the first official said.
Trump fired Flynn on Feb. 13 for not disclosing to the president or to Vice President Mike Pence the extent of his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, before Trump’s inauguration.
He now is enmeshed in the multiple investigations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates had improper contacts with Russian government agents.
Original story: Bannon Taken Off Trump National Security Council in Shake-Up
Federal Register: Presidential memo