National Security Adviser told a room full of Atlantic Council attendees on Tuesday that significant cuts were under way at the leak-prone White House National Security Council, confirming a Monday report in the Washington Examiner that up to 70 positions would be cut.
Robert O’Brien says the NSC will be down between 115 to 120 staffers by the end of this week. pic.twitter.com/FpleaBFh85— Josh Cremeans “DirtyTruth” (@AKA_RealDirty) February 12, 2020
While O'Brien pitched it as a return to "a manageable size," he didn't mention what the Examiner reported - namely, that most of the cuts would be Obama-era holdovers such as anti-Trump impeachment witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, 44, and his twin brother Yevgeny, who were fired from the NSC last week and escorted out of the White House by security.
O'Brian noted that the Vindmans "weren't fired," according to the Epoch Times, rather "Their services were no longer needed."
"It’s really a privilege to work in the White House. It’s not a right," he continued. "At the end of the day, the president is entitled to staffers that want to execute his policy, that he has confidence in, and I think every president’s entitled to that."
"We’re not a banana republic where a group of Lt. Colonels get together and decide what the policy is or should be," he added.
The reorganization was consistent with the “Scowcroft model” used by Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security adviser for Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush, according to O’Brien. The model emphasizes that the national security adviser shouldn’t “be an advocate for one policy or another.” Instead, the adviser should “ensure that the president is well served by the cabinet, departments, and agencies in obtaining counsel and formulating his policies.”
The policies are then decided on by the president and the adviser makes sure they’re carried out.
Most of the staff on the council actually work for other departments and agencies and are part of the council for a certain length of time. O’Brien suggested that some might not be serving in the way that top officials think they should. -Epoch Times
"When they come to the White House, they serve as the president’s personal staff and it is our view that while they are at the National Security Council, they should not represent the views of their parent agencies or departments," said O'Brien. "They’re not there as liaison officers, and they certainly shouldn’t represent their own personal views."
"The president has to have confidence in the folks on his National Security Council staff to ensure that they are committed to executing the agenda that he was elected by the American people to deliver," not a "mini State Department, a mini Pentagon, a mini Department of Homeland Security."