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Trump wants 'substantial' downsize of the National Security Council after whistleblower complaint
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has ordered a substantial reduction in the staff of the National Security Council, according to five people familiar with the plans, as the White House confronts an impeachment inquiry touched off by a whistleblower complaint related to the agency's work.
Some of the people described the staff cuts as part of a White House effort to make its foreign policy arm leaner under new national security adviser Robert O'Brien.
The request to limit the size of the NSC staff was conveyed to senior agency officials by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and O'Brien this week. The whistleblower complaint, focused on Trump's conduct in a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has been followed by damaging reports on the president's private conversations with other world leaders.
The New York Times has reported that the whistleblower was a CIA officer who was at one point detailed to the White House. The complaint has become the driving motivation behind House Democrats' impeachment effort, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi began last week.
Two of the people familiar with the decision to shrink the NSC insisted it was largely rooted in both the transition to O'Brien's leadership as well as Trump's desire to increase efficiency at the agency, which grew under former President Barack Obama. About 310 people currently work at the NSC.
All of the people asked not to be identified because the plan to reduce the NSC's size hasn't been made public.
Late Friday, Trump retweeted an allegation that the whistleblower was a CIA official who had been assigned to the NSC under Obama. Bloomberg News has not verified that assertion.
The reductions will primarily be carried out through attrition, as staffers return from assignments at the NSC to their home agencies, the people said. Many people who work at the council are career government professionals detailed from the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence agencies.
Members of Congress have periodically sought to reduce the size of the NSC in recent years. Some lawmakers have threatened to make the national security adviser a Senate-confirmed position if the administration didn't reduce the number of people working at the president's foreign policy shop.
Created under President Harry Truman in 1947, the NSC is an interagency panel designed to provide the president with subject-matter experts who can offer advice on foreign policy.
O'Brien took over the NSC last month after his predecessor, John Bolton, departed the administration after high-profile disputes with Trump and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo over Afghanistan, North Korea and other matters. There was also frustration among some West Wing officials about perceptions the NSC was leaking information to benefit Bolton.
Earlier this week, O'Brien appointed Alex Gray, formerly the National Security Council's Oceania and Indo-Pacific security director, to be a senior adviser, according to three people familiar with the plan.
Gray's appointment follows that of Matt Pottinger, who is now deputy national security adviser after serving previously as the NSC's senior director for Asia.
Pottinger, a former journalist and Marine who joined Trump's National Security Council in 2017 and later became senior director for Asia, has been deeply involved in U.S. talks with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, and helped to plan Trump's meetings with the country's leader, Kim Jong Un.
©2019 Bloomberg News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
The Army is almost doubling its purchase of new bolt-action Precision Sniper Rifles as its primary anti-personnel sniper system of choice, according to budget documents.
Air Force officials are investigating the death of a man near the north gate of the U.S. Air Force Academy on Saturday night after the NHL Stadium Series hockey game between the Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings, military officials said Sunday.
‘That cavalier misdirection cannot stand’ — Washingtonians ask judge to reduce ‘extremely noisy’ Navy Growler flights
The Citizens of Ebey's Reserve (COER) is asking a federal judge to require the Navy to roll back the number of EA-18G Growler practice flights at Outlying Field Coupeville to pre-2019 levels until a lawsuit over the number of Growler flights is settled.
COER and private citizen Paula Spina filed a motion for a preliminary injunction Thursday.
According to the motion, since March 2019 the Navy has increased the number of Growlers at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and shifted most of its Growler operations to Outlying Field Coupeville, which is near the Reserve and the town of Coupeville.
"The result is a nearly fourfold increase in Growler flights in that area. Now the overflights subject residents in and near Coupeville to extreme noise for several hours of the day, day and night, many days of the week," said the court document.
A 26-year-old man died after he failed to surface from waters off Molokai while participating in a scuba diving tour over the weekend.
He has been identified as Duane Harold Parsley II and was stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, according to the Maui Police Department.
LOS ANGELES — For decades, Japanese American activists have marked Feb. 19 as a day to reflect on one of the darkest chapters in this nation's history.
On that date in 1942, during World War II, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt authorized the forced removal of over 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent from their homes and businesses.
On Thursday, the California Assembly will do more than just remember.