Vice President Mike Pence made clear in a Wednesday interview with Fox News, that the change in the National Security Council members, including the exit of White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon, was in no way a demotion, adding that he and Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert will “continue to play important policy roles” in the Trump Administration.
In the interview with Martha MacCallum that aired Wednesday on “The First 100 Days,” Pence is asked whether the change is a demotion for Bannon. Pence quickly refutes the idea, affirmed that Bannon and Bossert are “highly valued members” of the Trump Administration.
In the interview snippet that was posted ahead of the airing, Pence says:
Not for Steve, not for Tom. These are very highly valued members of this administration. They’re going to continue to play important policy roles. But I think with H.R. Mcmaster’s addition as our National Security Adviser, a man of extraordinary background, military, this is just a natural evolution to ensure the National Security Council is organized in a way that best serves the President in resolving and making those difficult decisions.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) April 5, 2017
News hit Wednesday that Bannon would be leaving the position he had taken on the National Security Council. In a statement to the Wall Street Journal Bannon said, “Susan Rice operationalized the NSC during the last administration. I was put on to ensure that it was de-operationalized.” He continued, “General McMaster has returned the NSC to its proper function.”
Gen. Mike Flynn was ousted from his position as National Security Adviser in mid-February, just weeks after he took office. He was replaced by Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.
During his time on the council, Bannon attended at most one, possibly two meetings of the NSC according to the Washington Post. Bannon will retain his security clearance and is still allowed to attend NSC meetings. Bannon, a former Naval officer, joined the Council in late January.
Former National Security Advisor Rice called the initial addition of Bannon to the NSC “stone cold crazy,” in a tweet following the addition:
This is stone cold crazy. After a week of crazy. Who needs military advice or intell to make policy on ISIL, Syria, Afghanistan, DPRK? https://t.co/Mmyc139w3M
— Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) January 29, 2017
This week news broke that Rice was involved in the “unmasking” of U.S. citizens on the Trump team that were incidentally surveilled during intelligence gathering activities.
Trump Administration Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, United States Representative to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, and CIA director Mike Pompeo have been added to the National Security Council.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana