Donald Trump is freezing out National Security Council experts: report

The president has created a barrier separating himself from those with the most policymaking knowledge

By Matthew Rozsa
Published February 2, 2017 10:29PM (EST)
 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is stacking the National Security Council with friends of the Trump administration in a move insiders fear will create a wall between President Trump and the intelligence community.

Flynn's appointments — announced Thursday, according to a Politico report — include David Cattler, a former Defense Intelligence Agency official; John Eisenberg, a former Justice Department official; Kenneth Juster, a former Commerce and State Department official; and Kevin Harrington, a former managing director and head of research for the global macro hedge fund Thiel Macro LLC — which was owned by Trump friend Peter Thiel.

Cattler will specialize in regional affairs, Eisenberg will be the NSC's top legal adviser, Juster will oversee economic policy, and Harrington will be in charge of strategic planning.

All four of these new appointments have the title of deputy assistant to the president.

A White House spokesman told Politico that the goal was to reduce the size of Flynn's staff so as to "run a very precise and orderly and quick process," but multiple sources told Politico that staffers that they were concerned this organization structure will lead to an insular policymaking process within the White House.

This isn't the first time that reports have leaked about federal staffers and policymakers being displeased with how the Trump administration is conducting himself. Many talk with Obama's recently-departed personnel over how they can resist the president's initiatives or created social media accounts to anonymously leak their dissatisfaction with the new president's policies and actions, according to a report by The Washington Post on Tuesday. These developments among State Department employees prompted Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, to say that they "should either get with the program, or they can go."


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Donald Trump Michael Flynn Steve Bannon White House