Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said in an interview published Tuesday that it is “entirely inappropriate” for President Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon to be a member of the National Security Council principals’ committee.
“I am very surprised, disappointed and very much disagree with the president’s decision to restructure that important committee,” Collins said in an interview with Maine Public Radio.
She said that Bannon “does not have the expertise that the director of National Intelligence or the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have.”
“This is entirely inappropriate,” Collins said.
Collins co-authored legislation in 2004 along with former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) that established the office of the director of National Intelligence.
That position was affected by steps Trump took on Sunday, apparently to restructure the National Security Council. Besides adding Bannon to the principals committee, the President also specified that his director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would attend NSC meetings specifically “where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on Monday that reports of those roles being “downgraded or removed” from the council are “utter nonsense.”
“They are at every NSC meeting and are welcome to attend the principals meetings as well,” Spicer told reporters at his daily briefing. “Certain homeland security issues may not be military issues and it would not be in the best interest of the joint chiefs’ valuable time to be at these meetings.”
He also announced that Trump will add the CIA back to the NSC.
“It was the Obama administration that didn’t have it in,” Spicer said. “The CIA is in ours and it wasn’t in theirs.”