President Donald Trump reportedly did not realize he was promoting chief strategist Steve Bannon to the National Security Council (NSC) Principals Committee when he signed the executive order dropping intelligence and defense officials from the top government panel and elevating the former Breitbart News chair in their place.
The New York Times reported over the weekend that Trump had not been fully briefed on his own executive order, which became "a greater source of frustration to the president" than the protests and legal actions over his travel ban blocking immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries.
Reporters Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman depicted an administration that's just barely keeping a lid on its internal crises, turf wars, and lack of preparation—and a scheming chief strategist that's successfully taken advantage of it all.
[White House chief of staff Reince] Priebus told Mr. Trump and Mr. Bannon that the administration needs to rethink its policy and communications operation in the wake of embarrassing revelations that key details of the orders were withheld from agencies, White House staff, and Republican congressional leaders like Speaker Paul D. Ryan.
Mr. Priebus has also created a 10-point checklist for the release of any new initiatives that includes signoff from the communications department and the White House staff secretary, Robert Porter, according to several aides familiar with the process.
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Mr. Priebus bristles at the perception that he occupies a diminished perch in the West Wing pecking order compared with previous chiefs. But for the moment, Mr. Bannon remains the president's dominant adviser, despite Mr. Trump's anger that he was not fully briefed on details of the executive order he signed giving his chief strategist a seat on the National Security Council, a greater source of frustration to the president than the fallout from the travel ban.
The executive order promoted Bannon, a white nationalist with no foreign policy or government experience, to a regular seat at some of the most sensitive meetings at the highest levels of government, along with other NSC meetings. Meanwhile, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—who need to be confirmed by the Senate—were directed to only attend meetings when discussions pertain to their "responsibilities and expertise."
The memo led to speculation that the right-wing power grab in the executive branch could be setting the stage for a coup d'état.