Steve Bannon, the President’s chief strategist and senior counselor, has officially been removed from a permanent seat on the National Security Council Principals Committee, confirmed by the White House in an April 4, 2017 National Security Presidential memorandum published in the Federal Register. Now that Bannon has been banished, this administration is beginning to look more and more like a bad reality television program with the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in charge, if not closest to the President’s ear.
The shake-up now follows the statutory mandates for inclusion as permanent members of the NSC as set forth in 50 U.S. Code § 3021 (a). These changes,
“Reduced the role of Trump’s Homeland Security Advisor, Tom Bossert, and restored Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, and Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as regular attendees at NSC meetings.”
Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the completely clueless and in over his head, former Governor of Texas, who didn’t even know what the Secretary of Energy did at the time of his nomination, was also added to the NSC Principals Committee.
Mr. Bannon and the young Mr. Kushner have been reported to have been at odds with each other, causing a fracturing of loyalties within the administration, including derisive name calling. The situation is said to have deteriorated to the point that,
“The hatred between the two wings is intense and irreconcilable.”
The newly added to the NSC, General Dunford, invited the thirty-six year old real estate and media mogul, Jared Kushner, to accompany him on a visit to Iraq to be briefed on the battle against ISIS. Why Kushner, who like his father-in-law has no military or foreign policy experience, would be included on a mission to assess the situation in Iraq, is baffling. A spokesperson for General Dunford said that Kushner was,
“Traveling on behalf of the President to express the President’s support and commitment to the Government of Iraq and U.S. personnel currently engaged in the campaign.”
For some reason, while Jared Kushner and General Dunford were off to Iraq, Bannon showed up on April 5, 2017, for an NSC meeting after the announcement that he had been fired. The President or the National Security Advisor do have the authority to authorize designees to attend. Perhaps the removal was for public consumption only.
This banishment of Bannon was followed by the announcement from House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Devin Nunes, that he would step away from the investigation into the Russian intervention into the 2016 election. Nunes is now the subject of an investigation as a result of a complaint filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics alleging Nunes may have improperly disclosed to the President classified information about the investigation, that includes activities by the President.
This administration, now less than eighty days old, has already burned through a number of political appointees, particularly in the area of national security. Former Fox News Analyst, K.T. McFarland, reportedly will be leaving her job as the President’s Deputy National Security Advisor. Ms. McFarland is being considered for either the Ambassador to Singapore or for a position in the State Department. Craig Deare, an appointee to the NSC, was fired on February 17, 2019, for public remarks that were critical of the President’s “rocky start” with Mexico.
The President’s first National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn, according to Press Secretary Sean Spicer, was fired because of an “evolving and eroding level of trust”, otherwise know as lying. Monica Crowley, another Fox News analyst, was appointed to the NSC but never served, withdrawing her nomination on January 17, 2017 because of repeated allegations of plagiarism. Before that, six appointees were fired for failing to pass security background checks.
A poisonous atmosphere exists within the White House, in part because of a deep divide between Mr. Bannon and White House Chief of Staff, Rience Preibus, who is thought to be,
Not much has been seen or heard from the Chief of Staff since the Flynn firing and the rollout of the failed AHCA. Press Secretary Sean Spicer has also been reported to be on shaky ground since the first few days of the new administration.
Bannon has long standing ties to now Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, and Sessions former staffer, Stephen Miller. Recall that Sessions has also been forced to recuse himself from the Department of Justice’s investigation into the Russia probe, and he could face legal trouble down the road arising out of his less than honest testimony to the Senate Judiciary committee during his confirmation hearings. Chief of Staff, Priebus, is thought to be weak and,
“Chief of staff in name only.”
North Korea continues to lob ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, as chemical weapons are being dropped by the Russian backed Assad on innocent civilians in Syria, and the new administration has just rained some 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles onto an airbase near Homs inside Syria. Let us hope that no Russian personal got in the way. The new President has told us in a recorded statement that he ordered the strike because the innocent victims of Assad’s chemical attack included the beautiful babies. Those are the babies that the administration is working hard not to allow to escape Assad’s attacks by immigrating into the United States, while the world watches their bodies wash up on Turkish shores.
With all this as a backdrop, Mr. Bannon appears to be getting himself into more and more trouble, possibly losing allies inside the administration. Meanwhile, Jared Kushner seems to be taking on more roles and gaining more power.
Whether the removal of Bannon from the NSC was due to the over politicization of the NSC or to the infighting between the Bannon and Kushner factions, the Kushner wing is obviously winning. Bannon, the self professed “Deconstructer of the Administrative State”, clearly is losing influence to Jared Kushner, the “Son-In-Law of State”. Yes America, while Steve Bannon might be banished, Jared Kushner might now be in charge. Take a few minutes to evaluate that.