What to expect with Steve Bannon in high-ranking position on National Security Council

Jan 31, 2017

Nikki Haley Sworn In As United Nations Ambassador

Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to U.S. President Donald Trump attends the swearing in ceremony for Nikki Haley as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations January 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. ; Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images


President Trump has signed an executive order putting his chief strategist, former Breitbart News Network executive Stephen Bannon, in the “principals committee” of the National Security Council and reduced the roles of the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

It’s a move that has raised eyebrows and concerns, as the position is usually one filled by a high-ranking military officer. Trump has since said that the CIA director will be reinstated as a regular on the principals committee.

There are worries that a political adviser serving in a role that has similar authority to that of an intelligence adviser or even some cabinet members could create a conflict of interest or cloud judgment. It’s no secret that Bannon, along with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, is one of the president’s most trusted councilors.

In the past, those in Bannon’s position — like David Axelrod in the Obama administration or Karl Rove in George W. Bush’s presidency — have stayed away from NSC proceedings, with Rove even being instructed to do so by the then-White House Chief of Staff.


John Bellinger, III, Partner, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer; former legal adviser to the National Security Council at the White House from 2001-2005 (George W. Bush administration).

Stephen Vladeck, professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law, co-editor-in-chief of the Just Security blog and a contributor to the Lawfare blog.

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