McMaster downplays removal of Bannon from role on NSC

McMaster downplays removal of Bannon from role on NSC
© Getty Images

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on Sunday appeared to downplay the removal of chief White House strategist Stephen Bannon from his role on the National Security Council (NSC).

"This is not as significant as it appears, I think," McMaster said on "Fox News Sunday" when asked why he pushed for Bannon to be removed from his elevated role on the NSC.

"I think what the president was doing was making clear that he is going — in terms of permanent membership on the National Security Council — to have those permanent members who are there for every meeting ... to be those who will give him their advice on the long-term interests of the American people."

ADVERTISEMENT

McMaster said the president can "get advice from anybody he wants."

"And he does that," he said.

"He asks a broad range of people who he trusts, and Steve Bannon's one of them, about policy decisions and about the risks and opportunities involved with each of these, and so none of that has changed."

When pressed on whether he felt it was inappropriate to have a political adviser in a key role on the NSC, McMaster said it is appropriate "to have in that role whoever the president wants in that role."

"And Steve Bannon provides the president with advice on a broad range of issues and will continue to do so," McMaster said.

President Trump last week removed Bannon from his role on the NSC. McMaster reportedly made the decision, which Trump approved. 

Bannon was elevated in January to a position on the NSC principals committee in a shakeup that drew a wave of criticism. 

A report Saturday said Bannon is increasingly isolated and will be forced out of his role is he is not able to adopt a cooperative approach.