Sources familiar with the matter told CNN that National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien will announce major staff cuts at the National Security Council as early as this week. Shortly after his appointment last October, O’Brien indicated he planned to downsize the agency. He said this would happen through attrition and “getting staffers detailed to the Council from other departments to return earlier than planned to their home agencies, but one of the sources told CNN it looks like the final phase will involve more direct firings and cuts.”
By December, 40 to 45 staffers had left their NSC detail. According to CNN:
In January, about 180 officials from the Pentagon, the State Department, Homeland Security and the various intelligence agencies were on loan to the NSC. O’Brien told NPR in an interview that month that he expects to have about 60 to 70 staffers return to their home agency by the end of February and argued that a smaller NSC would be more efficient.
During the Obama Administration, there were 236 policy professionals working at the NSC, more than double the number of the Bush Administration.
Last week, O’Brien joined Fox News’ Laura Ingraham and said, “So it’s bloated. We’re going to bring it back to a size that’s manageable and efficient. And look, the folks who are there, they really need to want to serve the President.” O’Brien added, “What I said when I came to the NSC is that I would drastically downsize it. Another week or two, I think we’ll have met our goal.”
This streamlining of the NSC is long overdue. Perhaps if President Trump had made these changes when he’d first arrived in Washington, he might not have been impeached. Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman is believed to have leaked the readout from Trump’s July 25, 2019 conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to his former colleague Eric Ciaramella, who is believed to be the “whistleblower.” Vindman admitted under oath he had been so distressed over the phone call that he’d told others. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) asked him to name the individuals with whom he had shared information, however, House Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff (D-CA), prevented him from answering.
On Friday, Vindman and his twin brother Yegnevy were escorted out of the White House. They will be returned to other government agencies.
The Trump Administration must do a sweep of all government agencies to route out Obama Administration holdovers, something he should have done from the get-go.