Jordan Brunner has already summarized the principal changes President Trump has made to his National Security Council and supporting committees. Overall, the changes—the removal of Steve Bannon and the subordination of the Homeland Security Advisor—appear to reflect an assertion of greater management authority by President Trump’s new National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster. An NSC spokesman told the New York Times that Mr. Bannon had been placed on the PC to keep an eye on then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and to “de-operationalize” the National Security Council after the Obama administration. If true, this is an odd thing to admit. In any case, it should be the job of the National Security Advisor, not the White House Chief Strategist, to make sure the NSC does not micro-manage or become too operational (as it in fact had become during the Obama Administration).
One other change is worth noting: the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy—a new NSC position occupied by Dina Powell—will be a regular attendee at all Principals and Deputies Committee meetings. This is a positive development. Dina served as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs in the George W. Bush Administration and should be an experienced and moderating foreign policy voice in PC and DC meetings.
[Note: This post has been revised to reflect that Dina Powell has been added to both PCs and DCs.]