National Security Advisor O'Brien Is 'Drastically' Downsizing the NSC

By Susan Jones | February 5, 2020 | 8:35am EST
President Donald Trump with his new National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien on September 18, 2019. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
President Donald Trump with his new National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien on September 18, 2019. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - President Trump's National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien says he is "drastically" downsizing the "bloated" National Security Council staff, something he said he would do when he took the job in September.

"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 told Fox News's Laura Ingraham Tuesday night.

Ingraham asked O'Brien if he's concerned about National Security Council staffers who are "working against the president's agenda," as she put it.

"You know, look, it's something that concerns me, because when you work at the NSC on the personal staff of the president -- so it's always disappointing to me when I hear that there are people who believe their job is to resist the democratically elected president of the United States.

"I mean, they're there as his personal staff. If he can't rely on them to implement his policies, the policies that the American people elected him to--" O'Brien started to say.

Ingraham asked if he is "cleaning house."

"What I said when I came to the NSC is that I would drastically downsize it. It had ballooned up to 236 policy professionals from a hundred under Condi Rice. We're going to get back to the Condi Rice-Steve Hadley NSC, and we're very close to being there. Another week or two, I think we'll have met our goal...

"...I spoke with Condi. She said, we were fighting the global war on terror, Afghanistan, Iraq, and everything else and we did it with 100 policy professionals. And we're trying to get back to that size."

O'Brien said the National Security Council staff swelled primarily under President Obama:

"It really ballooned up from about 110 to 236 policy professionals. I kind of laugh -- when President Kennedy took office, he fired all of Dwight Eisenhower's policy professionals, I think 70 of them at the NSC, and got along with 12 people. He handled the Cuban missile crisis with 12 policy professionals.

"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 really need to want to serve the president."

One current member of the National Security Council, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, testified against the President before the House intelligence committee. Vindman listened in on President Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Zelensky, and he said he was "concerned by the call," and that "What I heard was inappropriate."

It's not clear if Vindman complained to the eventual whistleblower, but he did report his concerns to an NSC lawyer. "It is improper for the president of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and a political opponent," Vindman testified, although others testified there was no "demand" at all.

Another former NSC member, Fiona Hill, also testified before the intelligence committee. She quoted her former boss John Bolton as instructing her to tell the NSC lawyers that "I (Bolton) am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up."



 

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