Congressman Nadler Joins 50 Democratic Colleagues in Letter Demanding Trump Remove Steve Bannon from National Security Council Post

Feb 3, 2017 Issues: Civil Liberties, Homeland Security

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), senior Member of the House Judiciary Committee, joined Congressman Ted Deutch in delivering a letter to President Trump signed by over 50 Democratic Members urging him to restore the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence to their appropriate posts on the Principals Committee of the National Security Council. 

The letter is in response to a Memorandum the President issued on January 28, in which he removed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence as regular attendees of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee and added Stephen Bannon and his Chief of Staff as regular attendees to the Principals Committee.

Stephen Bannon’s lack of foreign policy experience and former leadership of a website closely aligned with the anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic alt-right should disqualify him from serving in such a high-level national security post. In addition, Bannon has claimed definitively that the United States will be at war with China within 10 years, a reckless prediction that could have profound implications across the globe.

“Trump’s unsettling move to put his political operative and white nationalist, Steve Bannon, on to the National Security Council Principals Committee is both telling and dangerous," said Congressman Nadler. "It demonstrates just how close, how important, and how powerful Steve Bannon is to Donald Trump. Bannon is dangerous.  As we saw with the recent Muslim ban, Bannon’s views and reckless approach to issues of national importance threaten global security and make America less safe. He does not belong on the Principals Committee of the National Security Council. Clearly, the Director of the DNI and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs do, and the President should immediately revoke his executive order and restore their positions on the Committee.”

The text of the letter and a list of co-signers are below. A copy of the letter can be found here.

Dear Mr. President:

On Saturday, January 28th, 2017 you issued a Presidential Memorandum on the Organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council. While we recognize it is the prerogative of presidents to appoint their own executive staff, we are deeply concerned that the new directive removes the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the required regular attendees of the NSC Principals Committee meeting.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has been included as a principal in every version of the National Security Council since its formal establishment in 1947, and the Director of National Intelligence has been a principal ever since the creation of the office after 9/11. This is a reflection of the deeply valued contribution that our intelligence and military communities have to offer in every national security decision – not simply in those topics that explicitly relate to their offices. It is an insult to both offices to limit their participation to meetings “where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed,” as your Memorandum states.

We are also concerned with both the substance and appearance of your decision to add the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff and the Assistant to the President and Chief Strategist as members of the Principals Committee.

Mr. President, successive Administrations have expressed concern over the politicization of the National Security Council. Even the slightest appearance of politicizing decisions of national security harms American interests. Josh Bolten, a former Chief of Staff to George W. Bush stated about President Bush, “the President also knew that the signal he wanted to send to the rest of his Administration, the signal he wanted to send to the public, and the signal he especially wanted to send to the military is that the decisions I’m making that involve life and death for the people in uniform will not be tainted by any political decisions.”

Because Mr. Bannon has no formal experience in national security or foreign policy, your apparent reason for his inclusion on this high-level security decision-making body appears to be based purely on the political advice that he gives to you. As Chairman of Breitbart News, Mr. Bannon advised Breitbart News Network to publish inflammatory and baseless stories like “Were Obama and Hillary Founders of ISIS? You Bet,” “Islamic State General Flees to Europe with 400 Soldiers Disguised as Refugees,” and “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew” to name just a few.

And the deeply troubling allegations that Mr. Bannon supports or is tolerant of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim views take on added significance if he is to serve as a Member of the NSC Principals Committee. At a time when the United States is leading the fight against ISIS, we should not be giving our partners in the Arab world, who are fighting alongside U.S. troops, any reason to doubt U.S. commitment to our alliances with these predominantly Muslim countries.

Taken together, the decisions to elevate Chief Strategist Steve Bannon while degrading the role of our nation’s intelligence and military leaders are deeply concerning.

As Members of Congress, preserving the safety and security of all Americans is our highest priority. National security should never fall victim to partisan politics. We strongly encourage you to restore the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to their rightful status as regular members of the Principals Committee. In addition, we request that your Administration provide to Congress a written explanation for your decision to inject politics into the Principals Committee by elevating political members of your staff to formal members of NSC’s Principals Committee.


Rep. Theodore E. Deutch
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici
Rep. Anthony Brown
Rep. Julia Brownley
Rep. Michael E. Capuano
Rep. André Carson
Rep. Kathy Castor
Rep. David N. Cicilline
Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay
Rep. Steve Cohen
Rep. Jim Costa
Rep. Joseph Crowley
Rep. Danny K. Davis
Rep. Diana DeGette
Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro
Rep. Mark DeSaulnier
Rep. Anna G. Eshoo
Rep. Bill Foster
Rep. Lois Frankel
Rep. John Garamendi
Rep. Gene Green
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez
Rep. Alcee L. Hastings
Rep. Denny Heck
Rep. Pramila Jayapal
Rep. William R. Keating
Rep. Joe Kennedy III
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi
Rep. Jim Langevin
Rep. Nita M Lowey
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham
Rep. Stephen F. Lynch
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney
Rep. James P. McGovern
Rep. Grace Meng
Rep. Seth Moulton
Rep. Jerrold Nadler
Rep. Scott Peter
Rep. Jared Polis
Rep. Jaime Raskin
Rep. John P. Sarbanes
Rep. Kurt Schrader
Rep. Bobby Scott
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter
Rep. Albio Sires
Rep. Louise M. Slaughter
Rep. Darren Soto
Rep. Thomas Suozzi
Rep. Juan Vargas
Rep. Marc A. Veasey
Rep. Peter Welch