President Donald Trump has removed White House chief strategist Steve Bannon from his role on the National Security Council, according to a report Wednesday.
The president reorganized the panel, Bloomberg reported, booting Bannon and downgrading the role of Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert.
According to the White House, Bannon was only on the NSC to supervise now-ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn’s work to “de-operationalize” the council from the broad purview it had under Susan Rice, who served as former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser from 2013-17. The White House claims that Bannon has never attended a single meeting.
“Mission done,” a senior White House official told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl.
Senior WH official says Bannon's mission on the NSC was to keep an eye on Flynn as he "de-operationalized" the NSC from Rice. "Mission Done"— jonkarl (@jonkarl)1491407659.0
National security adviser H.R. McMaster, who took over shortly after Flynn’s resignation, was given the responsibility of setting the agenda for meetings of the NSC or the Homeland Security Council, according to a White House filing.
As a result, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and Marine Corps Gen. Jospeh Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will again be “regular attendees” of the NSC’s principals committee.
When Bannon was first added to the NSC by Trump, the president’s order also dictated that Coats and Dunford would only be permitted to participate “where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed.”
The decision to elevate Bannon to a role on the NSC was immediately controversial. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, described the move in January as a “radical departure” from the history of the council.
“The one person who is indispensable would be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in my view,” he said during an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “So it’s of concern, this ‘reorganization.’ ”
And former Defense Secretary Bob Gates told ABC News that sidelining the DNI and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was “a big mistake.”
Former Defense Sec. Bob Gates calls sidelining DNI, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs from NSC meetings a "big mistake"… https://t.co/k39zT8bdZR— ABC News Politics (@ABC News Politics)1485701311.0
Last month, a group of House Democrats presented a bill that would have blocked Bannon from participating in NSC meetings. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) introduced the legislation, citing concerns over anti-government statements Bannon has made in the past.
“During an interview on Aug. 22, 2016, Bannon referred to himself as a 'Leninist' and stated his goal was to destroy all of today's establishment,” the lawmaker said.
Espaillat was referring to a story from The Daily Beast, in which Bannon was quoted as saying: “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment.”
The law would have made it illegal for Bannon — or anyone who makes similar comments — from serving on the NSC.
“Anyone who makes statements in threat to our government or to the security of our nation ... should not have a security clearance, no less a seat on the National Security Council,” Espaillat said.
This shakeup comes on the heels of new polling showing Bannon to be even less popular than Trump, who has suffered extremely low approval marks.
The Quinnipiac University poll showed that only 11 percent of voters have a favorable view of Bannon, while 45 percent have an unfavorable view of the chief strategist. Forty-two percent said they have not heard enough about him to make a judgment either way.