"The suggestion that he would downgrade the important role that the chairman plays in matters of national security reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the tremendous respect that the president holds for both the chairman himself and the Joint Chiefs as a whole".
White House Press Secretary defended President Trump's temporary refugee ban and Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that didn't mention Jews while saying government workers who don't agree with Trump should quit in another fiercely combative press conference Monday. Among them was one reorganizing the structure of the National Security Council, which advises the president on a broad range of issues related to security. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn clearly has no business holding his current post; his deputy is even less qualified; and the person the president tapped to oversee NSC communications was forced to resign.
Although it isn't exactly unusual for new presidents to reorganize the National Security Council, many were quick to raise concern about the inclusion of Bannon, suggesting it could be a sign of increased politicization of the key committee that amounts to the main group advising the president on national security and foreign affairs.
Also attending was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking military official in the US government.
In past administrations, the DNI and chairman of the joint chiefs were included as regular members of the Principals Committee.
Bob Gates, Obama's defense secretary and a veteran of the NSC and Central Intelligence Agency, said in an interview on the same ABC broadcast that while he wasn't concerned about Bannon's inclusion, he did believe pushing the DNI and military out of meetings was a "big mistake".
After the election, Bannon's appointment to a key Trump advisor and strategists with office space in the White House caused an uproar among Democrats and in the media. The top hashtag on Twitter for a time Sunday was: #StopPresidentBannon.
The new immigration policy may have been green-lighted by Trump's executive order but, according to CNN's Evan Perez and Pamela Brown, it was Bannon who masterminded the immigration order. But as reported by The Associated Press, during his tenure as head of Breitbart News, Steve Bannon has expressed opinions that many consider to be racist, sexist and anti-semitic.
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Bannon could have attended meetings regularly, anyway, Spicer contended, touting the announcement of his addition to the powerful panel as an example of the administration's 'transparency'.
The inclusion of Bannon brings politics into the situation room in a completely unprecedented way. John McCain of Arizona anxious.
In making his point, he presented a related 2001 memo by President George W. Bush and a related 2009 memo by President Barack Obama, and argued the relevant passages were virtually the same.
But drama on the committee isn't unheard of.
As for Bannon's elevation, Spicer also downplayed its significance and noted that former Obama adviser David Axelrod had attended NSC meetings as well, though had not been given a formal promotion to the role.
The move was met with a wall of disapproval from former Republican and Democratic national security officials.