6 Apr 2017

Trump drops Steve Bannon from National Security Council

5:35 am on 6 April 2017

President Donald Trump has removed his senior strategist Steve Bannon from the US National Security Council.

White House advisor Steve Bannon at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Steve Bannon Photo: AFP

The appointment in January raised fears that the gathering of US intelligence chiefs could become politicised.

A senior White House official said Mr Trump withdrew his chief strategist after it was decided he was no longer needed on the key foreign policy group.

The official said Mr Bannon had been placed on the NSC originally as a check on Mr Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and his presence was no longer needed after Mr Flynn's depature.

Mr Flynn was forced to resign in February over his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kisylak, prior to Trump's taking office on 20 January.

The official told US media the reshuffle was not a demotion for Mr Bannon.

However his removal from the NSC - the main group advising the president on national security and foreign affairs - was seen as a boost to national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who officials said has struggled to work with Mr Bannon.

Critics have branded Mr Bannon - who once managed Breitbart News, a right-wing outlet accused of xenophobia - as a white nationalist.

- BBC / Reuters