Trump Orders Overhaul of National Security Council

January 28, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Saturday to reorganize the National Security Council. The president signed two other executive actions, one imposing a five-year lobbying ban for administration officials and one ordering the Joint Chiefs of Staff to construct a plan to defeat the Islamic State or ISIS to be delivered to him within 30 days.

President Donald Trump said the National Security Council (NSC) reorganization represents “a lot of additional safety. People have been talking about this for a long time, like many years.” A senior Trump administration official said the National Security Council will be rearranged to be “more responsive to digital threats.” When referring to the memorandum calling for a plan to defeat ISIS, Trump said, “That’s big stuff.”

The Obama administration first met with Trump’s team two weeks after the 2016 presidential election. Due to a lack of security clearances, members of Trump’s transition team could not read the classified documents, including 275 security briefings on North Korea’s nuclear program, the war on ISIS, tensions in the South China Sea, and virtually every other threat the Trump administration could face in its first weeks in office. The National Security Council then created unclassified versions of the papers.

Since its inception, the National Security Council’s function has been to advise the president and his senior national security advisers and cabinet officials on national security and foreign policies. The N.S.C. also serves as the president’s principal arm for coordinating policies among various government agencies including the U.S. Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency.

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