His appointment as Chief Strategist on the National Security Council was controversial to say the least, but as of April 4, 2017, just 3 months after he got the job, Steve Bannon has been relieved of his services. Tom Bossert, who was the assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counter Terrorism was also downgraded in terms of his position.The White House maintains that the changing of the council was routine and that Bannon would still have a part in policy. VP Mike Pence spoke to Fox News about the changes and said “this is just a natural evolution to ensure the National Security Council . . . best serves the President”.
The US National Security Council was formed in 1947 to advise the sitting president on foreign, military, and domestic policies in relation to security. Generally, the council has consisted of the president, the VP, the Secretary of State, the Defense Secretary, and the Energy Secretary. Steve Bannon’s previous experience was founding and being the executive chair for Breitbart News – an online, far-right publication accused of pushing racism, sexism, xenophobia, and antisemitism. His appointment was seen as inappropriate and he was believed to be a puppeteer for the President in a bid to push his own agenda.
There are rumors spilling out of the White House today that indicate infighting and power struggles are the reason behind Bannon’s departure, though the President’s camp says that since Michael Flynn’s unceremonious departure, there was no longer a need for Bannon – he was there to keep Flynn in check. Michael Flynn was the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and had a seat on the NSC, for the first month of Trump’s presidency. However, this seems a strange reason, considering that Flynn stepped down (due to his ties with and lies about the Russian Ambassador) way back on February 13, 2017 – almost 2 months ago.
Since Bannon’s dismissal, General Joseph Dunford’s role has been elevated, as has Dan Coats’. They are the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the director of national intelligence who heads all 17 US intelligence agencies.
NSC adviser, General H.R. McMaster, apparently felt that he was in a fight to the death with Bannon, and they struggled to shape the Trump administration’s response to issues such as the Syrian Conflict – as recently as April 4, 2017, Syrian airstrikes dropped chemical bombs on their own people, killing at least 27 children. Trump has said that “It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children . . . these heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated”.
Though for now it seems that McMaster has won a small battle in having Bannon removed from the council, and hopefully making the NSC’s job a little bit clearer cut, there’s no way to tell if he’s won the battle. With a President as unpredictable as Trump, we could be seeing another routine shake down in another 3 months.
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