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Former Obama adviser calls Trump decision 'stone cold crazy'

Posted: 11:58 AM, Jan 29, 2017
Updated: 2017-01-29 16:58:33Z

President Donald Trump's decision to reorganize the National Security Council in a way that removes the director of intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is "stone cold crazy," former National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Sunday.

Rice retweeted another Twitter user, P.E. Juan, who said: "Trump loves and trusts the military so much he just kicked them out of the National Security Council and put a Nazi in their place."

Rice, President Barack Obama's national security adviser, was reacting to an executive order signed by Trump that said that the head of DNI and the nation's most senior military officer would be invited to attend the security meetings "where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed."

"This is stone cold crazy. After a week of crazy. Who needs military advice or intell to make policy on ISIL, Syria, Afghanistan, DPRK?" Rice tweeted, with DPRK referring to North Korea.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told ABC News Rice's comments were "clearly inappropriate language from a former ambassador."

DNI James Clapper was always included in Obama administration's NSC principals' meetings, CNN confirmed.

In contrast, Trump's order makes his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, a regular member of the Principals Committee. The committee is Cabinet-level group of agencies that deal with national security that was established by President George H. W. Bush in 1989. Every version of it has included the Joint Chiefs chairman and the director of the CIA or, once it was established, the head of the DNI. The President's chief of staff was typically included as well.

Bannon's presence reinforces the notion he is, in essence, a co-chief of staff alongside Reince Priebus, and demonstrates the breadth of influence the former head of Breitbart News has in the Trump administration.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, offered praise for the administration's national security team writ large, but expressed concerns about Bannon.

"I think the national security team around President Trump is very impressive. I don't think you could ask for a better one," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"I am worried about the national security council who are the members of it and who are the permanent members of it. The appointment of Mr. Bannon is something which is a radical departure from any national security council in history," he said. "It's of concern this quote reorganization."

Rice continued her tweetstorm: "Chairman of Joint Chiefs and DNI treated as after thoughts in Cabinet level principals meetings. And where is CIA?? Cut out of everything?"

And she noted a provision that would allow Vice President Michael Pence to chair NSC meetings if Trump isn't available.

"Pence may chair NSC mtgs in lieu of POTUS," Rice tweeted. "Never happened w/Obama."

And she added the observation that Trump's UN ambassador Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, was "sidelined from Cabinet and Sub Cab mtgs."

The NSC is run by National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency until he was asked to step down in 2014 by senior intelligence leaders.

There has been running tension between the Trump administration and the intelligence community, though during a January 22 visit to the CIA Trump declared that "nobody feels stronger about the intelligence community than Donald Trump," adding that "I love you. I respect you."

Before then, the President had argued that intelligence services were politically partisan, he dismissed their findings that Russia hacked Democratic targets during the campaign and referred slightingly to the intelligence community by tweeting with the word intelligence in quotes.

In setting out the reorganization, Trump said that "security threats facing the United States in the 21st century transcend international boundaries. Accordingly, the United States Government's decision-making structures and processes to address these challenges must remain equally adaptive and transformative."

Regular members of the Principals Committee will include the secretary of state, the treasury secretary, the defense secretary, the attorney general, the secretary of Homeland Security, the assistant to the President and chief of staff, the assistant to the President and chief strategist, the national security adviser and the Homeland Security adviser.