Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s chief political strategist, has taken control of domestic and national security policy, according to a Trump administration source.
An intelligence official who spoke to Foreign Policy magazine painted a picture of a White House that was in disarray and being run without checks and balances or even a complete paper trail.
Even before he was given a formal seat on the National Security Council’s “principals committee” this weekend by President Donald Trump, Bannon was calling the shots and doing so with little to no input from the National Security Council staff, according to an intelligence official who asked not to be named out of fear of retribution.
“He is running a cabal, almost like a shadow NSC,” the official said. He described a work environment where there is little appetite for dissenting opinions, shockingly no paper trail of what’s being discussed and agreed upon at meetings, and no guidance or encouragement so far from above about how the National Security Council staff should be organized.
The official said that the National Security Council staff had been cut off from reviewing White House executive orders, which has been the practice in previous administrations.
Additionally, Bannon is insisting that the National Security Council make its recommendations without producing a traditional paper trail, known as a “summary of conclusions” (SOC).
“Under [President George W. Bush], the National Security Council was quite strict about recording SOCs,” Matthew Waxman, a former member of Bush’s National Security Council, told Foreign Policy. “There was often a high level of generality, and there may have been some exceptions, but they were carefully crafted.”
According to the intelligence official, the Trump White House generated no SOCs during its first chaotic week. The lack of a paper trail is also helping Bannon concentrate power, the official said.
“He who has the pen has the authority to shape outcomes.”
The source revealed that Bannon is conducting a “witch hunt” to find out who is leaking proposed executive orders to the press.
“There is zero room for dissenting opinion,” the official explained.