Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He offered an interesting justification for why Steve Bannon has lost his National Security Council privileges.

Steve Bannon, a Trump campaign staffer and senior White House advisor whose last job was editing a white nationalist website, was appointed to membership on the NSC by executive order in February--an order Trump was tricked into signing by Bannon himself, who failed to explain to Trump the significance of the appointment. His appointment was met with disbelief by national security experts of both parties, since Bannon is a purely political figure with no background in national security or intelligence.

Today Bannon was removed from that position with the justification that he had only been put on to monitor Michael Flynn. Flynn served very briefly as Trump's national security advisor before resigning after it was revealed he had lied about the nature and extent of his contacts with Russian officials during the campaign. A number of senior campaign officials, and Trump himself, are under investigation by the FBI for possible collusion with Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

This explanation does not account for what Bannon was supposed to have been observing in Flynn, or how "monitoring" those meetings would have prevented Flynn from any further wrongdoing, or why Flynn was allowed to continue on as NSA if he were under this degree of suspicion, or why Bannon was not immediately removed from the NSC after Flynn resigned. Bannon will apparently retain his top security clearance.

Why should I care about this?

  • Presidents are entitled to try to save face when they correct their own serious mistakes, but it's bad if their explanations only raise further questions.