Cheers erupted in Washington this morning and TV news outlets did quick pivots with word that Trump’s top political adviser/former Breitbart chief Steve Bannon had been removed from the National Security Council.
Consensus on cable news outlets seemed to be that Trump’s Michael Flynn replacement, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, had asserted himself with Bannon’s removal, and today’s addition of both Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, back to the committee.
But, Bannon acolytes assured TV news talking heads, he still very much has Trump’s ear on national security decisions – as apparently does Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, both of whom come with no foreign policy experience. Today’s news only matters, glass-half-empty-ers noted, if the NSC is the route by which Trump makes foreign policy decisions, which has not necessarily been the case to date.
On MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell asked Rep Adam Schiff, the ranking Dem on the House Intel Committee, if he thought today’s surprise announcement was in any way connected to House Intel Committee chief GOP’s Rep Devin Nunes’ secret visit to the White House to look at documents that Nunes said indicated Team Trump had been swept up in intelligence gathering.
WaPo reported one of the White House employees involved in procuring the documents cited by Nunes – NSC senior director for intelligence Ezra Cohen-Watnick – has close ties to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. McMaster wanted to oust Cohen-Watnick from his NSC job, but C-W survived – by appealing to Kushner and Bannon, WaPo reported, citing anonymous officials.