A presidential memorandum was released on April 5, stating Steve Bannon’s removal from his role on the National Security Council on the Principals’ Committee, only a few months after being promoted to the position. According to a senior administration official’s statement to Fox News, the chief strategist for President Trump’s role on the NSC was reportedly created to ensure that the former Gen. Mike Flynn, the National Security Adviser, followed through on the Trump administration’s policy to de-politicize the Council. His appointment previously sparked controversy, as it revealed the considerable influence the head of Breitbart News– the controversial right-wing news outlet—could have on policy from the West Wing.
However, Gen. Flynn was soon fired from the position of National Security Adviser less than a month into the job. Flynn was fired because of rumors that he misled Vice President Pence over his conversations with a Russian official relating to U.S. sanctions during the transition. Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster was tapped to take his place, a change that is speculated to have had an effect on Bannon’s role on the NSC, as the memorandum announcing his removal was released following McMaster’s appointment.
In addition to Bannon’s removal, the presidential memorandum also adds the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and the secretary of the Energy Department to the Principals’ Committee. Moreover, the National Security Adviser will set the agenda for the NSC in addition to the Homeland Security Council. The NSC can delegate the Homeland Security Council as per their own discretion, a change to the method President Trump had originally ordered which allowed the Homeland Security Council to set their own agenda.
As for Mr. Bannon, his representatives state that the change does not decrease his influence, but rather comes as a natural evolution. In a statement to Wall Street Journal, Bannon spoke of his purpose to change how the NSC operated under the Obama Administration, stating that the former National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice “operationalized the NSC during the last administration [.] I was put on to ensure that it was de-operationalized. General McMaster has returned the NSC to its proper function.” The former executive chair of Breitbart News is still in possession of his security clearance and may still attend NSC meetings.