Saturday was a day of major political developments, followed by nearly immediate and spontaneous protest that more or less dominated the news cycle. But amid it all, there was another headline that got a lot less attention than it might have on other days—and may prove to be the most important story of them all.
According to reporting from multiple outlets, Trump has shaken up the National Security Council (NSC), diminishing the roles of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence (DNI) while elevating his own chief of staff Reince Priebus and his hugely controversial chief strategist Steve Bannon into key positions on the NSC.
According to the Guardian, contrary to the status quo during the Barck Obama and George W. Bush administrations—both men gave the chairman of the Joint Chiefs a permanent seat on the council and the DNI—those two positions will now only be seated with the NSC when the topic is relevant to their “responsibilities and expertise.”
Trump administration will publish a weekly list of crimes purportedly committed by undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities. pic.twitter.com/GzTOo2Iub4— Will Sommer (@willsommer) January 25, 2017
Priebus’s inclusion at the table may prove less controversial because he’s generally a far less inflammatory figure than Bannon. But his addition to the Principals Committee is nonetheless a major shift in its composition, away from career military and intelligence officials and toward the president’s inner circle. While the news about Bannon and Priebus’s standing invitations to any NSC meeting were overshadowed on Saturday, it did not go unnoticed.
Last summer Bannon said he wanted the website he published to be a "platform" for white nationalists. Now he is on Trump's NSC.— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) January 29, 2017
I know it's a high bar, but the most insane story of the last week may be the fact that Steve Bannon is on the NSC's principals committee.— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) January 29, 2017
Note that Bannon has a higher status on the new NSC than the Director of National Intelligence and the Joint Chiefs Chairman. https://t.co/AZsCe8Qk4d— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) January 29, 2017
It’s also drawn some fire from at least one prominent congressional Republican, too. Arizona Sen. John McCain, who’s been a frequent on-again off-again GOP critic of Trump, said he was “worried” about the restructuring and called it “a radical departure from any National Security Council in history” on CBS News’ Face The Nation on Sunday.