White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon has been removed from the National Security Council in a shakeup Wednesday.
According to a source familiar with the decision, Bannon, a former executive at Breitbart News, is no longer listed as an attendee of the “principals committee” of the NSC, Bloomberg reports. The change could placate critics who were furious over Bannon’s appointment to the council.
The decision to remove Bannon was made by H.R. McMaster, Trump’s new national security adviser following the resignation of Michael Flynn.
“Susan Rice operationalized the NSC during the last administration,” Bannon said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal. “I was put on to ensure that it was de-operationalized. General McMaster has returned the NSC to its proper function.”
With this move now complete, Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are now back to regularly attending the principals committee.
The filing also gave McMaster authority in setting the agenda of NSC meetings, with an option to delegate that authority to Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, if he so chooses.
The oft-criticized Bannon drew fire in January for referring to the press as “the opposition party.”
Trump’s appointment of Bannon incensed the national security class. Former President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the decision to appoint Bannon to the NSC was “stone cold crazy.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended Bannon’s appointment in late January, citing his background as a former naval officer who has a “tremendous understanding of the world and the geopolitical landscape that we have now.”
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