Ex-Defense secretary: Trump's changes to security council a 'big mistake'

Ex-Defense secretary: Trump's changes to security council a 'big mistake'
© Getty

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is concerned about President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' MORE’s reorganization of the National Security Council (NSC).

In a memorandum over the weekend, Trump reshuffled the NSC, adding White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon as a member of its principals committee and removing the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence.

“I think pushing them out of the National Security Council meeting except when their specific issues are at stake, is a big mistake,” Gates told ABC’s “This Week.”

According to the memorandum, the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff "shall attend where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed."


Gates served as secretary of Defense under both former presidents George W. Bush and Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama gives Twitter shoutouts to early voters facing challenges: 'You're an inspiration to all of us' Obama highlights Biden's tweet from a year ago warning Trump wasn't ready for pandemic Why childcare must be a priority to restart the economy MORE.

“I think they both bring perspective and judgment and experience to bear that every president, whether they like it or not, finds useful.”

Gates said that “adding people to the National Security Council never really bothers” him, regarding the addition of Bannon.

Some lawmakers and former government officials have expressed concern over the restructuring of the NSC.

Susan Rice, formerly the national security adviser to President Barack Obama, called Trump’s reorganizing of the NSC “stone cold crazy.”

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMark Kelly releases Spanish ad featuring Rep. Gallego More than 300 military family members endorse Biden Jennifer Lawrence says until Trump she was 'a little Republican' MORE (R-Ariz.) on Sunday called Bannon’s place on the NSC a “radical departure from any national security council in history."