(Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times)
Trump has made decisions that disoriented Washington, and then just as promptly, unmade them, leaving disorder and questioning in his wake. Nine weeks after appointing Steve Bannon to the National Security Council, one of his most controversial selections, Trump removed his chief adviser.
The initial appointment of Steve Bannon, who ran Breitbart news and oversaw the publication's transformation into a far-right, antiestablishment, and purportedly white-nationalist outlet, was marked by controversy and widespread disapproval. Opposed groups called attention to his self-professed commitment to providing a platform for the alt-right, and it’s hard to forget the words he uttered in his interview with Hollywood Reporter: “Darkness is good…Dick Cheney, Darth Vader, Satan. That’s power.”
This is also the man who framed much of his agenda with vowing to fight for “the deconstruction of the administrative state,” and proclaimed his pride in Trump’s refusal to veer toward moderation.
After all this, Bannon’s dismissal comes as a surprise, only two months after his installation. With his language of “economic nationalism,” his intense dislike of mainstream media, and his focus and commitment to hardline issues, he ostensibly fit in with Trumps’ administration.
Initially, Trump was criticized for taking the unusual step of allowing Bannon to attend all National Security Council meetings, giving him unusual influence over key military and intelligence decisions. Now, although he has been released, Bannon still retains the highest level of security clearance that one can have in the West Wing.
One given explanation shares that Bannon acted as a counterforce to check National Security Adviser Michal Flynn, but this explanation seems odds for multiple reasons. Flynn was chosen specifically by Trump to be adviser, and left the National Security Council nearly a month ago. Why the wait, and why an opposing “check” for an already hand-picked official?
Furthermore, the changes to the White House staff extend beyond Bannon. Two officials were added back to the National Security Council’s Principal’s Committee: the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford. Bannon’s removal perhaps decrease the threat of politicizing the security council, and these additional changes in some way restore traditional structure to the White House Security system.
Marirose Bernal Staff Reporter