NEW YORK CITY — US President Donald Trump wasn’t “fully briefed” on the details of the executive action giving his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, more power, according to an explosive report from the New York Times.
The presidential memorandum, which drew outrage when Trump signed it in late January, removed the nation’s top military and intelligence advisers as regular attendees of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee, the interagency forum that deals with policy issues affecting national security, and gave Bannon a regular seat at the table.
Top Republican lawmakers and national security experts roundly criticised the move, expressing their scepticism that Bannon should be present and alarm that the the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence would attend only when necessary.
But Trump may not have anticipated the backlash, according to Times reporters Glenn Thrush And Maggie Haberman, who talked to dozens of anonymous government officials to get a picture of what the Trump White House looks like.
“For the moment, Mr. Bannon remains the president’s dominant adviser,” the Times wrote in its piece on Sunday, “despite Mr. Trump’s anger that he was not fully briefed on details of the executive order he signed giving his chief strategist a seat on the National Security Council, a greater source of frustration to the president than the fallout from the travel ban.”
Michael G. Mullen, a retired US Navy admiral who was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011, penned an op-ed in the Times on Monday making the case that Bannon “doesn’t belong” on the National Security Council’s Principals Committee.
“The appointment of Mr. Bannon is something which is a radical departure from any National Security Council in history,” Republican Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CBS’ “Face the Nation”after Trump signed the executive action. “The one person who is indispensable would be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in my view. So it’s of concern, this ‘reorganization.'”
‘Pulling the strings’
Before joining the Trump campaign, Bannon, 62, was the CEO of the far-right website Breitbart News — a website known for its anti-establishment, white-nationalist positions on issues such as immigration and trade. His appointment as chief strategist has drawn vitriol from political insiders, as well as at the many protests and marches since Trump took office.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who served in the Clinton administration, said on CNN Sunday that she thinks White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon is “the person that’s pulling the strings.”
The Washington Post reported on Saturday that Trump has noticed Bannon’s rising media profile, and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough questioned whether Bannon was “calling the shots” on Monday. likely inciting Trump to tweet that that wasn’t the case.
Trump has roundly criticised The New York Times in the past, adding it to the list of publications he has called “fake news.”
The Times reported a spike in subscriptions after Election Day, recording its best quarter for digital subscriptions in six years.
I call my own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it. Some FAKE NEWS media, in order to marginalize, lies!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 6, 2017
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