WASHINGTON — President Trump’s national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien has dramatically slashed the size of the National Security Council — reducing the headcount to half of what it was during the Obama era, The Post has learned.
The job cuts are an attempt to streamline the foreign policy outfit, which ballooned under the Obama administration to almost 240 staffers — still up from 115 during Condoleezza Rice’s tenure as George W. Bush’s NSA in the early 2000s, a senior White House official said.
By the end of this summer, the NSC will consist of just 105 staff, the official said.
The changes come as O’Brien — Trump’s fourth national security adviser — tries to remake the forum in his image after replacing fiery predecessor John Bolton, who was ousted last October following a high-profile dispute with the president.
As part of those efforts, women now make up 50 percent of the NSC’s senior leadership for the first time in history, including coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx, who was brought into the NSC from the State Department by O’Brien in February.
Twelve of the council’s 24 directorates are now led by women.
The staffing reduction is not performance-based and will be carried out by returning staffers on assignment from the State and Defense departments and the FBI, an official said.
Trump reportedly instructed O’Brien to substantially reduce the size of the agency shortly after he arrived at the White House — an effort O’Brien detailed in a Washington Post opinion piece.
At the time, the foreign policy operation was at the center of an impeachment inquiry sparked by a whistleblower complaint related to the agency’s work.
“Under previous administrations, the NSC more than doubled in size and duplicated many of the functions of DoD, State and the intelligence community,” O’Brien told The Post on Tuesday.
“Under President Trump, we have brought the NSC back to its proper size and role as a coordinating body,” he continued.
“To make that happen we require the best leaders, many of whom are women. Our goal is always to find the very best professionals for each job, and I am very proud of the team we have assembled at the NSC to further President Trump’s agenda,” he said.
In 2016, Republicans in both houses of Congress introduced bills that would have slashed the NSC staff to no more than 150 people — legislation the Obama administration opposed.
Created by President Harry Truman in 1947, the NSC is an interagency panel that advises and assists the president on national security and foreign policy.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the dramatic reduction at the NSC showed Trump was remaking Washington in his image.
“In business, President Trump has always recognized that some of our best leaders are women, and he’s brought that view to his Presidency,” she told The Post.
“On his watch, the NSC team is streamlined again and more capable than ever, and a lot of that has to do with strong women leadership,” she continued.
Source: Read Full Article