Steve Bannon, controversial Trump advisor and former head of the ultra-conservative Breitbart News, was removed from the National Security Council on Wednesday, Bloomberg reported. Bannon’s appointment to the NSC in January was highly controversial given his lack of qualifications and what some might call his white nationalist leanings.
The news came from a memo published in the Federal Register rather than from any sort of formal announcement. And Bannon’s removal was not the only shakeup reported in the filing. The role of Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert was also downgraded, while the national intelligence director, Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, have been restored to “regular attendees” of the NSC’s Principals Committee. This committee is defined by The Associated Press as “a group of high-ranking officials who meet to discuss pressing national security priorities.” The National Security Council itself is the main group that advises the president on foreign and domestic security considerations. It usually consists of members of the president’s cabinet, his close advisors, and ranking military and intelligence officials.
The memo gave no official reason for Bannon’s departure from the council. According to the AP, “a senior White House official said Wednesday that Bannon was initially placed on the national security council after Trump’s inauguration as a measure to ensure implementation of the president’s vision, including efforts to downsize and streamline operations at the NSC.” Another anonymous White House official told Bloomberg that Bannon had been placed on the council to monitor embattled former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. After Flynn had to resign and General H.R. McMaster took his place, there was no reason for Bannon to remain on the council. BuzzFeed News reports that to many insiders, Bannon’s departure is seen as McMaster’s final step in consolidating his power within the NSC.
Many Democratic lawmakers celebrated Bannon’s exit, particularly given his ultra-conservative leanings. “I’d be very pleased that he would not be on the National Security Council,” Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin told Politico. “My hope is that he would have no role in government at all.” We can all hope that this is a step in the right direction.