Donald Trump just gave ex-Breitbart head Steve Bannon a major national security role

It’s been slightly more than one week since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, and he’s signed a dizzying number of executive orders including his hyper-controversial immigrant ban.

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.”

Bannon, 63, has never worked in the federal government—not before Jan. 20, at least—and his pre-Trump campaign career is precisely why so many people are startled and concerned with this development. He was the chairman and CEO of far-right website Breitbart, which emerged as one of the most loudly pro-Trump outlets on the internet. Breitbart has also had a number of controversial and inflammatory fixations under Bannon’s tenure, drawing criticism for racist and xenophobic attitudes toward immigrants and refugees, particularly Muslim ones, and black Americans and Black Lives Matter.

In fact, the site kept a dedicated news tag on “black crime” during Bannon’s tenure. This received heightened scrutiny recently, thanks to the administration’s plan to release weekly reports detailing crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in so-called sanctuary cities.

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.

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.

Chris Tognotti

Chris Tognotti

Chris Tognotti is a frequent contributor for the Daily Dot. He’s a news and current events writer based out of Berkeley, California, and a co-host of the podcast Now We Know. While he specializes in domestic politics and opinion writing, he’s also savvy on sports, video games, and film.