Trump strategist Bannon removed from National Security Council

Trump strategist Bannon removed from National Security Council

WASHINGTON: (APP) Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump's chief strategist, has lost his seat on the powerful National Security Council in a high-level White House shakeup.

Trump's elevation of Bannon to a permanent spot on the NSC had been widely criticized as injecting politics into White House deliberations on sensitive defense, foreign policy and intelligence matters.

The move revealed Wednesday was seen as a setback for Bannon, the controversial former head of the far-right media website Breitbart, who is one of Trump's most trusted advisors and sometimes dubbed the real power in the White House.

And it appeared to boost recently appointed National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, who is putting his own stamp on the crucial advisory body.

Trump made no statement on the shift, but Bannon described it as part of a process of getting the council under control after it grew rapidly under president Barack Obama's national security advisor, Susan Rice.

"Susan Rice operationalized the NSC during the last administration so I was put on NSC to ensure it was 'de-operationalized.' General McMaster has NSC back to its proper function," Bannon said in a statement.

Normally out of the news, the NSC has been the focus of uncommon controversy in the first months of the administration.

Trump's first national security advisor, Michael Flynn, was forced out in February after he made misleading statements about conversations he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak after the election.