Democrats have been highly critical of President Donald Trump’s decision to add top adviser Steve Bannon to the National Security Council, calling the move “deeply troubling.”
A number of Republicans argue the addition will help educate the president’s confidant on pressing issues.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the addition is an act of transparency. That’s in contrast to the Obama administration, which didn’t publicly disclose when advisers were attending meetings.
“Steve has an extensive military background, extensive background in geopolitical affairs, and the assumption that he’s playing the same role as Karl Rove is just not accurate,” Spicer said during an appearance on MSNBC. “And so, he brings to the table a much greater scope of the political landscape, vis-a-vis the world — the geopolitical landscape in national security affairs.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer blasted Republicans’ assertion the move is unwonted, since cabinet-level officials including Karl Rove and David Axelrod also attended the meetings. According to Hoyer, the addition places partisan politics in the midst of important national security decision-making.
“Steve Bannon is perceived as a political adviser and the argument that he was in the serve for seven years doesn’t cut it in my opinion – it weakens the views I think here and around the world of the integrity of the National Security Council,” he told reporters Tuesday.
GOP Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said Trump clearly values Bannon’s advice.
“I would suspect like anybody else that goes regularly to meetings, you get educated, you’re actually getting briefed and getting policy options laid out in front of you by some of the best and brightest professionals that we have,” Cole told reporters Tuesday. “That strikes me as a lot better for a guy with that kind of influence to be subjected to and involved in that kind of discussion as opposed to whispering in the president’s ear in the oval office that we’ll never know about.”
While a number of Republicans have defended the inclusion of Bannon, a handful of GOP lawmakers have express concerns over the decision.
“I am worried about the National Security Council,” Sen. John McCain of Arizona said on “Face the Nation” Sunday. “Who are the members of it and who are the permanent members? The appointment of Mr. Bannon is something which is a radical departure from any National Security Council in history.”
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