House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did not hold back when voicing concerns over President Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, on Capitol Hill Thursday.
During her weekly press briefing, Pelosi called Bannon a white supremacist twice and lamented that Trump appointed him to the National Security Council (NSC) while diminishing the roles of the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, who is the nation’s highest-ranking military officer, and the director of national intelligence (DNI), who heads the nation’s intelligence community.
“What’s making America less safe is to have a white supremacist named to the National Security Council as a permanent member, while the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Director of National Intelligence are told, ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you,’” she said. “It’s a stunning thing that a white supremacist, Bannon, would be a permanent member of the National Security Council and dismissing the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the director … of national intelligence as members.”
For its part, the White House has rejected the idea that the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman or the DNI have been excluded at the NSC. On Monday, press secretary Sean Spicer blasted reports on the subject as “utter nonsense,” arguing that the security officials would still attend NSC meetings in their portfolio and that they were welcome to attend more.
Before joining Trump’s presidential campaign, Bannon was the executive chairman for the far-right Breitbart News website outlet. He is a prominent figure of the so-called alt-right, which critics describe as a rebranding of white nationalism. Bannon told Mother Jones last summer that the website is “the platform for the alt-right.”
Breitbart News rejects the “white nationalist” label and told The Hill last November that the conservative website was preparing a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against a media company for its “baseless and defamatory claim” that Breitbart News represented white nationalism.
Bannon is reportedly an architect of Trump’s highly controversial executive order that blocks entry by people from seven Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Africa for 90 days, while barring all refugees from entering the country for 120 days.
In December 2015, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” The plan later evolved into a vow for “extreme vetting,” which the White House now claims its executive order helps implement.
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