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H.R. McMaster plays down Bannon's removal from NSC group

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster suggested that the removal of chief White House strategist Steve Bannon from the Principals Committee of the National Security Council (NSC) doesn’t say much about Bannon’s standing in the White House.

“[T]his is not as significant as it appears, I think,” McMaster told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace Sunday. “But I think what the president was making clear that he is going -- in terms of permanent membership of National Security Council -- [to] have those permanent members who are for every meeting, every official meeting of the National Security Council, to be those who will give him their advice on the long-term interests of the American people.”

Last week, the president issued a new executive memo that removed Bannon from the list of regular members of the NSC Principals Committee, a small working group made up primarily of the top Cabinet officials who regularly consider policy issues affecting national security.

However, McMaster said that Bannon is still a trusted adviser from whom President Trump seeks advice “about policy decisions and about the risks and opportunities involved.”

Bannon’s earlier inclusion on the Principals Committee gave rise to concerns that a political strategist would be a standing member of the committee. Asked by Wallace whether it was “inappropriate” to give a political adviser a role on the Principals Committee, McMaster replied, “No, I think what is appropriate is to have in that role -- whoever the president wants in that role ... Steve Bannon provides the president with advice on a broad range of issues and will continue to do so.”

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