What Bannon's NSC Exit May Mean for White House

Trump chief strategist is out of post: business as usual or a shift in power?
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2017 11:06 AM CDT
Updated Apr 5, 2017 2:11 PM CDT
Steve Bannon No Longer on National Security Council
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

President Trump generated controversy early in his presidency when he named chief strategist Steve Bannon to a key role on National Security Council. As of this week, Bannon no longer holds the post, reports Bloomberg. Some White House officials are insisting it's not a demotion, though Bannon's critics say they're relieved because the NSC's Principals Committee is a dangerous place for a political adviser with little or no foreign policy experience. A look at coverage:

  • The shakeup at the NSC was orchestrated by National Security Adviser HR McMaster, reports the New York Times. Bannon is out, while the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the director of national intelligence are back. Also added are the energy secretary, the CIA director, and the UN ambassador.

  • Two White House officials tell the Washington Post that the Bannon move is not a demotion. One says Bannon got the position in the first place to keep an eye on Michael Flynn, a duty no longer necessary now that Flynn has resigned as national security adviser. The officials say Bannon had attended only one or two meetings anyway. A post at Breitbart, the alt-right site previously run by Bannon, makes a point to note that he retains his security clearance.
  • “Susan Rice operationalized the NSC during the last administration,” Bannon said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal, referring to the previous national security adviser. “I was put on to ensure that it was de-operationalized," and he's leaving now that "General McMaster has returned the NSC to its proper function.”
  • Despite the no-big-deal sentiment, "the move to downgrade Bannon’s role on the NSC could signal that more traditionally-minded forces are beginning to get their way in the White House," writes Rosie Gray at the Atlantic.
  • In that same palace intrigue theme, Politico reports that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner has been particularly critical of Bannon of late in discussions with people inside and outside the White House, and that he's viewing Bannon more and more as a liability to the president.
  • An analysis at CNN thinks it's a "clear sign that a shakeup in the Trump power structure is under way." The president seems to be shifting away from Bannon's "more hard-line ideological bent."
  • Not so fast, cautions a post at New York. Bannon is still has the president's ear as chief strategist and thus has plenty of opportunity to shape issues including foreign policy.
  • Make no mistake: McMaster just engineered "the most complete victory since the Battle of Midway," observes a post at RedState. It suggests his star is rising with the president.
  • Much good-riddance-to-Bannon sentiment is out there, including this column at the Boston Globe, which hopes Trump might give him the boot from the White House entirely. As for the NSC, "he never belonged there in the first place."
  • So what is the Principals Committee? The AP defines it as a group of high-ranking officials from various government agencies who meet regularly to discuss pressing national security issues. As a member, Bannon would have had the authority to call a vote if he felt Trump's vision for the NSC wasn't being followed.
(More Steve Bannon stories.)

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