White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon has been removed from the National Security Council (NSC) following a shakeup approved by President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, the move also restores the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence as regular participants on the council.
The NSC is a Cabinet-level forum that helps coordinate national security issues with other federal departments.
On April 5, a regulatory filing confirmed that Bannon would no longer sit on the NSC following a shakeup ordered by the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, and approved by the president.
One anonymous source familiar with the decision told CNN that Bannon had agreed to the demotion, asserting that he had only been installed on the NSC to oversee former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn.
On Feb. 13, Flynn resigned from his position after it was discovered through reporting that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about the substance of his phone correspondence with Sergey Kislyak, a Russian ambassador to the U.S. He was replaced by McMaster.
On Jan. 29, Bannon was appointed to the NSC's principals committee, a move that had been met with controversy due to the irregularity of installing political advisers on what has traditionally been a nonpolitical council, according to NPR.
Trump had been frustrated by the appointment because he had reportedly not been fully briefed on his executive order that authorized Bannon's placement on the NSC, The New York Times reports.
When Bannon was appointed, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence were simultaneously downgraded to simply participating in the principals committee when requested. Their permanent status has been restored following McMaster's shakeup.
Another anonymous Trump administration official told The Daily Beast that Bannon had not attended principals meetings during his short tenure on the NSC and echoed the assertion that he had only been placed on the council "to babysit Flynn."
Meanwhile, an anonymous senior aide deemed that explanation as "spin."
Bannon will reportedly keep his security clearance and remains one of Trump's closest advisers. One anonymous source familiar with the shakeup asserts that Bannon can still attend principals meetings.
"In all the time he was there, he only attended one principals meeting," the source said. "He is still welcome to attend principal meetings."
Bannon has released on an official statement asserting that he was stepping down from the NSC because he felt that his work was done.
"Susan Rice operationalized the NSC during the last administration," Bannon said. "I was put on to ensure that it was de-operationalized. General McMaster has returned the NSC to its proper function."