(CNN) – The White House is defending its move to give President Trump’s controversial Chief Strategist a key role on the National Security Council. CNN has more on why Steve Bannon’s new position is seeing push back.
Growing concern from both parties over the appointment of President Trump’s top political adviser Steve Bannon, to a full seat on the National Security Council. Bannon, former head of the right-leaning ‘Breitbart News’ website, known as a hard-line nationalist and opponent of globalism, will have a seat on the council’s so-called ‘principal’s committee’.
However, the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will not- even though experts say their posts are critical to almost every decision the NSC makes.
Sen. John McCain said, “The appointment of Mr. Bannon is something which is a radical departure from any National Security Council in history. It’s of concern this quote reorganization.”
Tony Blinken, who was deputy national security adviser under President Obama said Bannon’s presence on the NSC is risky. “The concern is that decisions on national security, and on our foreign policy, should be a politics-free zone to the greatest extent possible.”
The National Security Council was created after world war two for the President to be able to handle immediate threats facing the country.
Prof. I.M. Destler, co-author of “In the Shadow of the Oval Office”, said, “It was designed to kind of stabilize Presidential policy and constrain the President a little bit, so he wouldn’t talk to just anybody.”
Its core members were the President, Vice President, Secretaries of State and Defense, The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Sometimes other Secretaries, like Treasury or Energy, have been added in. The secretaries make up the ‘Principals’ Committee.
Prof. I.M. Destler said, “Now the NSC does not make decisions. The President makes the decisions. He doesn’t have to follow their advice.”
If President Trump’s NSC was shaped like those of previous administrations, the principals committee would have included the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford.
However, under President Trump, the Principals Committee will not include General Dunford or DNI Coats, except when their specific expertise is called for, and will include Steve Bannon, who spent 7 years as a naval officer.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer points out, Barack Obama’s political advisor David Axelrod sometimes attended NSC meetings, and said President Trump would benefit from a political advisor’s presence. “Having the Chief Strategist for the President in those meetings, who has a significant military background to help make, guide what the President’s final analysis will be is crucial.”
Even though, as Sean Spicer pointed out, political advisers to the President have attended NSC meetings, historians say there has never been a political adviser who’s had a full-time seat on the NSC’s staff as Steve Bannon now does. In fact, during the last republican administration, President George W. Bush made a point of telling his chief political adviser, Karl Rove, that he could not come to NSC meetings. Despite all repeated inquiries Steve Bannon did not comment for this story.