US President Donald Trump congratulates Stephen Bannon during the swearing-in of senior staff in the East Room of the White House on January 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. 
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Bannon removed from Trump’s National Security Council

Almost immediately after becoming president, Donald Trump made all kinds of strange decisions, but one of the toughest to defend was his appointment of Chief White House Strategist Stephen Bannon – up until recently, a guy who ran a right-wing website – to a full seat on the principals committee of the National Security Council.

Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said soon after, “This is a ‘Holy Crap’ moment.’”

The concerns grew more acute soon after when Foreign Policy reported that Steve Bannon had begun “calling the shots” at the NSC, “doing so with little to no input from the National Security Council staff.” The magazine quoted an intelligence official who described the NSC’s work environment as one in which there’s “little appetite for dissenting opinions” and “shockingly no paper trail of what’s being discussed and agreed upon at meetings.”

That was just nine weeks ago. As of today, however, Bannon has been removed from the NSC.
President Donald Trump has removed Steve Bannon, his chief strategist, from the National Security Council, according to a filing in the federal registry. […]

A senior White House official told NBC News that the changes were not the result of any “power struggle” within the administration.

Bannon was put on the Principals’ Committee only as a check against then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, the official said. Now that Flynn is gone, Bannon is no longer needed in that role, the official said.
That’s an odd explanation. For one thing, why would the president find it necessary to have a check against his own hand-picked National Security Advisor? For another, Flynn was ousted on Feb. 13. If Bannon’s role on the Security Council became unnecessary after Flynn departed, why wait until April to make the change?

If you’re thinking there are parts to this story the White House hasn’t yet disclosed, you’re not alone. Perhaps the current NSA, H.R. McMaster, has prevailed in some kind of behind-the-scenes power struggle. Maybe Bannon’s star is falling in Trump’s orbit. Perhaps Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a Bannon ally and a young man who was elevated to be senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council despite a lack of qualifications, is in trouble, too, in the wake of the Devin Nunes fiasco.

While we wait for answers to be uncovered, it’s also worth noting that today’s announcement was part of a larger re-reorganization of the NSC, following Trump’s January shake-up. As the NBC News report added, “As part of the shakeup announced Wednesday, two officials were added back to the NSC’s Principal’s Committee: the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford.”

As for the broader context, I hope you saw Rachel’s segments this week on Team Trump’s politicization of the National Security Council:
The Rachel Maddow Show, 4/3/17, 9:34 PM ET

Trump uses National Security Council as personal political tool

Rachel Maddow looks at some of the internal struggles of Donald Trump’s National Security Council and reports on new evidence that the NSC is being used as a political tool to bolster a counter-narrative to the Trump Russia scandal.

Donald Trump, Intelligence and White House

Bannon removed from Trump's National Security Council