Bannon out at NSC

So reports Bloomberg:  Bannon Removed From National Security Council Role in Shakeup

President Donald Trump reorganized his National Security Council on Wednesday, removing his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, and downgrading the role of his Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Bossert, according to a person familiar with the decision and a regulatory filing.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was given responsibility for setting the agenda for meetings of the NSC or the Homeland Security Council, and was authorized to delegate that authority to Bossert, at his discretion, according to the filing.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. michael reynolds says:

    Had he ever received a security clearance? If not, maybe this is in effect a consequence of a denial of a security clearance.

  2. Joe says:

    This seems kind’a big.

  3. Paul L. says:

    Had to get rid of Steve Bannon because he knows now he has the power to unmask political opponents in Intel reports.

  4. Michael,

    To be fair, the chief political strategist for both of the previous two Presidents had a seat on the NSC so Bannon being there wasn’t unusual. I’ve just never understood why such a person needs to be there at all.

    As for a security clearance, I would assume he has one. This decision wouldn’t affect that at all.

  5. Scott says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    To be fair, the chief political strategist for both of the previous two Presidents had a seat on the NSC so Bannon being there wasn’t unusual.

    Maybe it was a matter of nuance, but Axelrod was not a member of the Principals Committee and never sat in on their meetings. He did attend other NSC meetings on occasion.

  6. @Doug Mataconis: As @Scott notes, the issue was the Principals Committee coupled with who was excluded from that group (IIRC) as well as the most central fact: the degree to which the National Security Adviser was not given a say.

  7. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds: @Doug Mataconis:

    Yes, he does have a security clearance, and will keep it, according to several sources.

  8. Modulo Myself says:

    If you follow the backstory on this stupid Susan Rice thing, it turns out that the WH guy who gave the documents to Nunes was to have been fired by McMaster. But the firing was overruled by others. Maybe this is payback for that.

    I don’t even want to imagine what’s going on with their nutty response to the North Korea missile firing. Who knows what any of this stuff means, really. These people are so in over their heads. Bannon has been going around for years thinking Dostoevsky wrote Anna Karenina, apparently, and somehow he’s an intellectual in the minds of people who read The Federalist. If Putin wanted to take over DC for real he would send 300 porn stars armed with blow and 30-year single-malt and the nuclear codes would be in his possession in a day.

  9. CSK says:

    Well, it looks as if Kushner has taken the lead in the race between him and Bannon for the presidency.

    I recall reading somewhere that Bannon predicted that if it came down to a battle between him and Kushner, he (Bannon) would be out of the White House in six months. We now have slightly less than four to go.

  10. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: As noted above by Scott and Steven, this isn’t accurate. Axe (or would *occasionally* attend meetings when there were potential political implications that would have to be messaged but not in a decision-making or participatory capacity.

    See his account from January:

    As a senior adviser to President Obama in 2009, I had the opportunity to witness the fateful deliberations of his National Security Council Principals committee over the strategy the U.S would pursue in the war with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    I was not a member of the committee. I did not speak or participate. I sat on the sidelines as a silent observer with Gibbs because we would be called upon to publicly discuss the president’s decision on that critical matter and the process by which he arrived at it.

    We knew our presence chagrined some of the principals but, acting on the president’s instructions, we were there to gain a thorough understanding of what would be one of the most important judgments he would make as commander-in-chief.

    Our access also came with limits. We were barred from some of the most sensitive meetings on the Afghanistan-Pakistan policy review so as not to inhibit discussions.

    Beyond that, Gibbs and I did not attend regular meetings of the NSC Principals committee or their deputies nor were we invited to weekly meetings on terrorist threats.

  11. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:


  12. CSK says:

    Bannon has put out a statement saying that Susan Rice had “operationalized” the NSC and he was put on it to “deoperationalize” it, and now that he has accomplished that task, he no longer needs to be on the council.

    My bullsh!t meter just redlined.

  13. @SKI:

    My only point was that putting Bannon on the committee formally wasn’t really that big a deal. And removing him isn’t a big deal either. He’s still Trump’s Senior Advisor and likely to stay there as long as he wants to.

  14. Joe says:


    The reason your bulls!t meter just redlined is not because of how the administration explained the move, but merely the fact that the administration explained it. I doubt anyone standing more than 10′ away from the situation really knows exactly why it happened, but I am sure no one will take this administration’s word for it.

    @Doug Mataconis:

    While it may not have been a big deal that Bannon was added to the Committee in the first place, I think it is a big deal that his role has been changed so early in the administration. You know this President does not apologize and does not want to look weak, so formally and publicly reducing the role of your chief advisor to a group you very publicly added him to is not a casual move. Not sure what it means, but I can’t believe it’s unimportant.

  15. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: That reminds me of the lines from one of Flanders & Swann’s skits (set at the time of Henry VIII)

    “They’re nationalizing the monestaries!!”
    “Well if they offer you one, don’t take it, because if Bloody Mary gets in they’ll be DE-nationalized!”

  16. Ig'nint in Transit says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    somehow he’s an intellectual in the minds of people who read The Federalist

    In fairness, who on the right isn’t an intellectual in the minds of people who read The Federalist? They don’t even know what Federalism is.

    They don’t even know they’re not Federalists, fer flock sake.

  17. CSK says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Or as long as Kushner wants him to stay, which may not be that long.

    One thing that Bannon has done that I don’t think most people are fully aware of is to fill the White House with Breitbart “reporters,” in one capacity or another. These are Trump propagandists with zero knowledge of foreign or domestic policy who are helping to craft those policies.

  18. Dazedandconfused says:

    McMaster is one of those guys whose threat to resign should be taken seriously. Imagine the crap-storm of that and having to select his replacement, not to mention the one he could make as a person outside the tent pissing in instead of the other way around.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find out Bannon cooked up Operation Nunes without notifying Trump, let alone President Kushner, and then just up and did it.

  19. Gustopher says:

    I’ve tried to come up with a brilliant and witty comment, but all I have is this….


  20. Tony W says:

    After 75 days in office, I’m trying to think of what percentage of those days Trump has successfully managed the news cycle to get his messaging out in an effective way.

    I’m going to go with zero.

  21. @Tony W: Indeed. I have never bought the notion that Trump was masterfully distracting us all with his tweets.

  22. CSK says:

    According to a piece in the NYTimes, Bannon threatened to quit after being bounced from the NSC. He is denying this.

    I think his days may be numbered; he hasn’t had a lot of success with the Muslim ban and the attack on the Freedom Caucus. Trump is reportedly annoyed that Bannon takes credit for the agenda. (You’d think he’d be disavowing it.) But mostly, Trump is very annoyed about the constant jibing references to “President Bannon.”

    Here’s the thing: If Kushner succeeds in getting Bannon to defenestrate, then people will start referring to “President Kushner,” and what will Trump do then?

  23. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I think it is a significant and material difference between a silent occasional observant and a regular formal member who presumably participates and has input on formal findings and recommendations.

    Regardless, as Dazedandconfused noted, it likely is a sign that McMaster is getting more influence and control which is, in and of itself, a big deal.

  24. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: One report is now saying that both Bannon and Priebus are on the way out.