Trump removes Bannon from National Security Council

Trump's overhaul of the NSC, confirmed by a White House official, also elevated General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Dan Coats, director of National Intelligence who heads all 17 United States intelligence agencies. The official said the change moves the NSC "back to its core function of what it's supposed to do".

Critics said Mr Bannon's role on on the Security Council risked politicising foreign policy.

The NSC is the main group advising the president on national security and foreign affairs.

In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, Bannon said "Susan Rice operationalized the NSC during the last administration". He cited President Barack Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, for why he advocated a change.

Trump was reportedly irate over the reception of his first executive order that overhauled the NSC, saying that he was not properly briefed about its drastic implications, The Times said. But since then he had become a crucial member of the Trump team. The official noted the lack of attendance further validates that Bannon's role was a temporary one. He joined Donald Trump's campaign as the CEO in August amid opposition from the Republican mainstream, who were the major target of Bannon's erstwhile website Breitbart News.

McMaster reportedly insisted ousting Bannon from the White House Situation Room where the latest information on a military or political situation is discussed.

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Bannon was given a seat the NSC shortly after Trump ascended into the White House, a rare responsibility for senior White House advisers.

But when reports surfaced that Bannon was one of the architects of Trump's controversial travel ban, the anti-Bannon fervor hit a fever pitch.

Trump rattled the U.S. intelligence community when he enacted an order in January that placed Bannon on the National Security Council's principals' committee, the main policy-making group in matters mainly relating to national security.

Flynn was forced to resign on February 13 over his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, prior to Trump taking office on January 20.

A separate senior White House official corroborated Bannon's account, but would not go on the record.

However, two current national security officials rejected the White House explanation, noting that two months have passed since Flynn's departure.