alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.

A Big Blow to Bannon: Why Trump's Executive Order Removing Him from the NSC Is a Major White House Power Shift

In a shakeup by President Trump, top White House political strategist Steve Bannon has been removed from the National Security Council’s principals committee, which is comprised of top military service chiefs and intelligence agency heads. Bannon, who never should have been on the committee in the first place, was removed via an executive order that restored the traditional White House balance of keeping political appointees out of the military and intelligence chain of command.

The decision suggests that Bannon’s still-substantial power in the White House is being restrained and limited—though public statements by Bannon and the White House are offering other excuses. Bannon, the former executive chairman of the far-right Breitbart News, was elevated by Trump to the principals committee at the start of his presidency. The move was sharply criticized by Congress and foreign policy experts.

The decision was made by Trump’s new national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing an unnamed White House official. Bannon was put on the principals committee—where he never attended a meeting—in part to watch Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who has since left in disgrace, Bloomberg reported, also citing an unnamed White House official. 

In a statement reported by the Journal, Bannon reverted to his Breitbart conspiracy theory mode, predictably blaming not only the Obama administration for his ouster, but pointing fingers at Susan Rice, the latest Obama administration figure the far-right is seeking to ensnare in its change-the-topic defense of Trump’s campaign contacts with Russia. “Susan Rice operationalized the NSC during the last administration,” Bannon’s statement said. “I was put on to ensure that it was de-operationalized. General McMaster has returned the NSC to its proper function.”

What this means is that the so-called deep state, or Washington institutions that endure throughout changes of administrations, like the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, are reasserting their power by pushing political operatives like Bannon back into a more limited sphere of influence. It means he will not have equal say in military and intelligence agency analysis and decision-making.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.