Dem offers bill to remove Bannon from National Security Council

A Democratic lawmaker introduced legislation on Wednesday that if passed would kick President Trump’s top political adviser, Stephen Bannon, off the National Security Council.

An executive memorandum issued by Trump over the weekend gave Bannon a seat on the National Security Council, which traditionally has been composed solely of top administration officials specializing in foreign affairs and security.

Trump’s move also de-emphasizes the roles of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence so that they only attend meetings related to topics limited to their specific roles.

{mosads}Rep. Stephanie Murphy’s (D-Fla.) bill would ensure that no person whose “primary or predominant responsibility is political in nature” could be designated as a member of the Security Council or be allowed to regularly attend its meetings.

It would also express a sense of Congress that the Director of National Intelligence and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shouldn’t be limited from attending Security Council meetings.

“Our men and women in uniform, our intelligence and homeland security professionals, and our citizens should feel secure in their knowledge that the critical decisions made by the NSC are free from political considerations. The American people deserve a national security policymaking process that inspires confidence, not cynicism,” Murphy said in a House floor speech.

The decision to give Bannon, the former head of right-wing Breitbart News, a seat on the council alarmed former officials from both Democratic and Republican administrations.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) called the move a “radical departure” from any other Security Council.

David Axelrod, former President Barack Obama’s top political adviser, attended some Security Council meetings but didn’t participate regularly or contribute to policy decisions made there.

And former President George W. Bush’s chief of staff Josh Bolten said adviser Karl Rove was never allowed into NSC meetings.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer noted Bannon is a formal naval officer while defending the move during a Monday briefing.

“Steve’s not going to be in every meeting; he’ll come in and out when needed,” Spicer said. “But I think we wanted to be upfront about it and make sure that that was stated so it wasn’t a story when he did.”

Spicer also downplayed limiting the meetings that can be attended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Director of National Intelligence.

“This idea that there’s been a downgrade is utter nonsense,” Spicer said. “What we’ve done is make sure that on issues of homeland security and domestic policy, they are always welcome to attend. However, if the issue is pandemic flu or other domestic issues that don’t involve the military, it would be a waste of time to drag the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff over. If he wants to attend, he’s welcome.”

Tags Barack Obama John McCain National security United States National Security Council
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