Donald Trump removes Stephen Bannon from National Security Council – Washington Times

Washington Times
Donald Trump removes Stephen Bannon from National Security Council
Washington Times
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon listens at right as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on cyber security in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) more >.
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President Trump removed his chief strategist Stephen Bannon from the White House National Security Council Wednesday as part of a reorganization, according to a presidential national security memorandum.

Mr. Trump also downgraded the role of his Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Bossert, on the NSC, according to the memorandum, which is to be filed in the Federal Register. The moves were sought by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, who took over the job after Michael Flynn was fired in February.

Under the moves, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford are again “regular attendees” of the NSC’s principals committee.

Mr. Bannon’s inclusion in the principals committee at the start of Mr. Trump’s presidency drew criticism from some outside the White House as a potential for political interference on the NSC.

White House officials say Mr. Bannon will still be able to attend NSC meetings — he reportedly had attended only one — and that the move doesn’t change his status as one of the president’s most influential advisers.

The president fired Mr. Flynn for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the extent of his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, during the presidential transition.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the removal of Mr. Bannon from the NSC came a few days after committee Democrats asked the White House to reveal the names of all presidential staffers involved in dealings with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, who visited the White House grounds last month as part of his investigation into President Trump’s claims that the Obama administration conducted surveillance on Trump campaign officials.

“One key question is whether Mr. Bannon was involved in any way with the dealings between NSC staffers and Chairman Nunes or his trip to the White House,” Mr. Cummings said. “We asked the White House to tell us by this Friday whether National Security Adviser McMaster or White House Counsel [Don] McGahn was personally aware of these activities and whether anyone else at the White House was involved.”

He said Mr. Bannon’s post on the NSC was “a role he was wholly unqualified for.”

“We need to know what in the world is going on,” Mr. Cummings said.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican, said Mr. Bannon’s removal from the NSC is “welcome news.” She noted on Twitter that she called on Mr. Bannon in January to “write himself out” of the council.

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