Steve Bannon is the top advisor to Donald Trump, and has just been given a seat on the National Security Council.


Bannon previously was the head of conservative news source Breitbart News, and was chosen by Trump to be a top advisor in his administration. Bannon aided Trump in laying the political and ideological foundations before Trump’s win. Despite being a publisher himself, Bannon has called US media “the opposition party,” and said it should “keep its mouth shut.”

Bannon is generally dressed more casually than any other member of the White House staff, and is often seen in the background of meetings or in private talks with the president. “He’s telling Trump that he can do everything he said he would do on the campaign trail,” says an inside source. As such, Bannon is much higher on the administration’s totem pole, just above Trump’s own son-in-law Jared Kushner.

“He has a great understanding of the American public and why Trump won the election, and he tells Trump about what people are really upset about and what they’re really concerned about,” explains former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani. “Trump generally agrees with him.”

Trump critics are worried about Bannon’s level of power, as Breitbart News associates itself with the alt-right and, in turn, white nationalism.

Fellow top aid Stephen Miller works by Bannon’s side, and together the two wrote Trump’s inauguration speech. Their critics are afraid they move too quickly and without enough fact checking and planning. Some Republicans and White House staff members have accused the men of withholding information.

“Steve mastered [Trump’s] voice,” says a close source in reference to Miller. “He takes him stuff he knows the president will like, and he puts it in the words the president will want to say.”

Now Bannon has been given a spot on the National Security Council, in line with the timing of the executive order to ban immigration from seven predominantly-Muslim nations. This puts him in the conversation about high-level national security and foreign affairs. Seats on the NSC are supposed to be given to Generals and high-ranking military officials.

“Steve Bannon is not on the White House staff for his national security expertise,” said Paul Begala, former adviser to Bill Clinton. “He’s there because he was a successful publisher of what he describes as a platform for the alt-right, which is part of Trump’s base. That’s politics. There should be no seat at the table at the NSC for that person.”

“The last place you want to put somebody who worries about politics is in a room where they’re talking about national security,” said Leon E. Panetta, a former White House chief of staff, defense secretary and C.I.A. director in two Democratic administrations, told the New York Times. “I’ve never seen that happen, and it shouldn’t happen. It’s not like he has broad experience in foreign policy and national security issues. He doesn’t. His primary role is to control or guide the president’s conscience based on his campaign promises. That’s not what the National Security Council is supposed to be about.”

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