The Obama administration has written 275 briefing papers for the incoming Trump administration: nearly 1,000 pages of classified material on North Korea’s nuclear program, the military campaign against the Islamic State, tensions in the South China Sea, and every other kind of threat the new team could face in its first weeks in office.
The president named Bannon to the council in a reorganization of the NSC. He also said his chief-of-staff Reince Priebus would have a seat in the meetings. During his presidential campaign, Trump promised to “drain the swamp” of Washington, which he depicted as a city rife with unscrupulous lobbyists and corrupt career politicians. Since election day he has drawn criticism, however, by relying on lobbyists to advise his transition team, by stocking the government with potentialconflicts of interest, and by refusing to divest or publicly account for his own ethics risks.
Donald Trump’s choice for national security adviser has rejected the post days after Michael Flynn was forced to resign. Vice Admiral Robert S Harward visits Zaranj, Afghanistan on January 6, 2011. Shawn Coolman/US Marines via Reuters
hese are chaotic and anxious days inside the National Security Council, the traditional center of management for a president’s dealings with an uncertain world.Three weeks into the Trump administration, council staff members get up in the morning, read President Trump’s Twitter posts and struggle to make policy to fit them. Most are kept in the dark about what Mr. Trump tells foreign leaders in his phone calls. Some staff members have turned to encrypted communications to talk with their colleagues, after hearing that Mr. Trump’s top advisers are considering an “insider threat” program that could result in monitoring cellphones and emails for leaks.
National security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials, current and former U.S. officials said.
Michael Anton, a senior national security official in the Trump administration wrote under a pseudonym last year that Islam is an inherently violent religion that is “incompatible with the modern West,” defended the World War II-era America First Committee, which included anti-Semites, as “unfairly maligned,” and called diversity “a source of weakness, tension and disunion.”
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Saturday signed sweeping guidelines giving federal authorities more power to aggressively detain and deport illegal immigrants, The Washington Post reports. According to the report, Kelly detailed plans in a pair of memos to hire thousands of new enforcement agents, widen the classification of immigrants who should be prioritized for removal, speed up deportation hearings and use local law enforcement to make arrests.
HR McMaster has shown himself to be an accomplished military strategist and an adept White House infighter. People close to McMaster say that an early priority for the three-star general was to marginalise Bannon and re-empower the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and director of national intelligence, whose places on the principals’ committee of the national security council Bannon had taken. At a stroke, McMaster accomplished that this week, establishing his supremacy over the homeland security and economic councils for good measure, and cementing his alliances with joint chiefs chairman General Joe Dunford and intelligence chief Dan Coats.
Sally Yates’s tenure as the Trump administration’s acting attorney general was short-lived but eventful. A holdover from the Obama Justice Department, Yates didn’t make it two weeks before she was dismissed for refusing to defend Trump’s first travel ban. But before she departed, she warned White House counsel Donald McGahn that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had misled his superiors about his preelection conversation with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Weeks later, word of that warning leaked to the press — and Flynn promptly resigned.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord told staff this week she is leaving to pursue other opportunities. McCord has led the probe into Russian election meddling. Mary B. McCord has served at the highest levels in the national security unit, either as its leader or chief deputy, for the past three years. A longtime federal prosecutor based in Washington, McCord easily won the confidence of both career lawyers and her supervisors inside the Justice Department.