President Donald Trump signed an executive order Saturday that included details about his administration’s plan to fight ISIS. But in that same motion, Trump appointed his chief strategist Steve Bannon to the National Security Council.
This shakeup is far from ordinary. It minimizes the roles of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence, and Bannon, a political staffer, will be attending NSC meetings that staffers typically would not go to.
Bannon will join the NSC’s principals committee, according to NPR, which is the top inter-agency group for national security discussion.
The NSC is the staff inside the White House that coordinates decisions made by the president with any action that may be taken by the State Department and the Pentagon.
Trump’s reorganization and movement of Bannon has stumped some in political circles.
NPR’s Mara Liasson said whenever staffers from the political wing of the White House sit in on NSC meetings, it tends to ruffle feathers.
“David Axelrod, for instance, who had a similar job as Bannon in the Obama administration, never sat in on Principals meetings,” Liasson said.
Bannon is said to have been an instrumental part behind the numerous executive orders signed by Trump during his first week as president, including the ban on refugee travel from seven Muslim countries that created chaos at airports across the U.S. Saturday as travelers with green cards and visas were refused entry back into the U.S. and detained. Some say the issues happened because Bannon and other administration officials are not effectively communicating with government agencies.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Sunday he was “worried” about the state of the NSC after Trump’s shakeup, and called Bannon’s appointment a “radical departure from any National Security Council in history,” during an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
McCain also said an important NSC decision-maker, Gen. Joseph Dunford, is now being shut out of critical meetings.
McCain is concerned that Trump has seemingly centralized administrative power around Bannon, who is most well-known for running Breitbart News, an “alt-right,” populist news website that is thought to have helped develop Trump’s form of combative, nationalistic politics leading up to the election.
A vast majority of the content on Breitbart is categorized as being “alt-right,” meaning it promotes white nationalism, populism and racist ideals.