In an executive order issued Saturday, President Trump added his chief strategist Steve Bannon to the National Security Council, while limiting the role military and intelligence leaders play on the panel.
The director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will now only attend meetings of the National Security Council’s principals committee — the meetings of the most senior national security officials — when the business at hand directly their “responsibilities and expertise.” According to the Washington Post, both were regular attendees at all meetings of the principals committee under President Obama and President George W. Bush.
Bannon, on the other hand, will be allowed to attend all meetings of the principals committee. That gives Bannon — the former executive chairman of Breitbart, a website that promotes white nationalism — extraordinary influence over U.S. national security policy.
Bannon has a history of anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and bigoted comments, and has openly disparaged Jews and minorities and has called women “dykes.” Both the Klu Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party cheered his appointment to the White House. Bannon also reportedly had a major role in crafting key parts of Trump’s Muslim ban, including the fact that the ban also applies to people with lawful permanent residence.
The move to add Bannon to the council — and remove high-level national security officials — drew sharp criticism from Susan Rice, former National Security Adviser to President Obama, who called the move “stone cold crazy” on Twitter.
This is stone cold crazy. After a week of crazy. Who needs military advice or intell to make policy on ISIL, Syria, Afghanistan, DPRK? https://t.co/Mmyc139w3M
— Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) January 29, 2017
ABC News also pointed to comments Joshua Bolten, former chief of staff to George W. Bush, made at a national security forum last September. He explained why President Bush was always adamant that Karl Rove, White House adviser, not attend any meetings that dealt with national security.
“It wasn’t because he didn’t respect Karl’s advice or didn’t value his input,” Bolten said. “But the president also knew that the signal he wanted to send to the rest of his administration, the signal he wanted to send to the public, and the signal he especially wanted to send to the military is that the decisions I’m making that involve life and death for the people in uniform will not be tainted by any political decisions.”