Mullen: Bannon doesn't belong on National Security Council
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Retired Admiral Michael Mullen says White House chief strategist Steve Bannon should not be on the National Security Council (NSC).

Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under former Presidents Obama and George W. Bush and a former member of the NSC, warned in a New York Times opinion piece published Monday that having Bannon on the council while downgrading the roles of national security officials would have a negative, partisan influence.

“Having Mr. Bannon as a voting member of the principals committee will have a negative influence on what is supposed to be candid, nonpartisan deliberation,” Mullen wrote. “I fear that it will have a chilling effect on deliberations and, potentially, diminish the authority and the prerogatives to which Senate-confirmed cabinet officials are entitled.”

“Every president has the right and the responsibility to shape the security council as he sees fit,” Mullen added. “But partisan politics has no place at that table. And neither does Mr. Bannon.”

President Trump signed a measure adding Bannon, the former head of conservative media outlet Breitbart News, to the NSC in late January.


The Trump administration had defended the reorganization, saying it didn't downgrade the roles of the chairman of Joint Chiefs or the director of national intelligence.

“If this is true, the administration should clarify that by making them permanent members of the principals committee,” Mullen wrote. “That would send a strong signal that Mr. Trump will still take seriously the military and intelligence community.”

Members of Congress have also criticized Bannon’s appointment. Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Meghan McCain: Bernie Sanders supporting prisoners being able to vote 'bats**t insane' MORE (I-Vt.) demanded Bannon be removed from the council, and Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWhy did Mueller allow his investigation to continue for two years? If you don't think illegal immigrants are voting for president, think again 10 factors making Russia election interference the most enduring scandal of the Obama era MORE (R-Ariz.) said the move made him worried.

Former Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice called the action “stone cold crazy.”