Donald Trump’s political strategist Steve Bannon has lost his place on the national security council in a staff shakeup, documents show.
A presidential memorandum dated 4 April took Bannon, the former Breitbart News executive and chief White House link to the nationalist rightwing, off the country’s main body for foreign policy and national security decision-making. It also restores the traditional roles of the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the director of national intelligence to the NSC.
While the revamp is likely to be seen as a victory for Trump’s second national security adviser, army lieutenant general HR McMaster, the substantive impact of the shakeup remains to be seen. A parallel security structure in the Eisenhower executive office building, known as the Strategic Initiatives Group, reports to Bannon, whose close relationship with Trump suggests continued influence in this administration.
While the White House on Wednesday pushed back against the perception that Bannon had been demoted, McMaster’s camp described Bannon’s removal and the restoration of joint chiefs chairman Gen Joseph Dunford and intelligence chief Dan Coats to the council as a key objective for the national security adviser.
“Huge,” said one McMaster ally who requested anonymity. “That’s a big deal.”
The ally said the move showed McMaster establishing his influence with the president. McMaster was neither part of Trump’s election team nor even his second choice to run the NSC.
The McMaster ally described Bannon’s removal as a “priority” for senior advisers “both in and out of the West Wing”, including defense secretary James Mattis.
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