But whether a smaller OBBenen-led NSC will have more influence over the president is far from clear. Trump has long since chosen his gut instinct over policy advice. And NSC officials fear the impeachment process, which focuses on whether Trump has tried to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival, will make the president even less credible with US bureaucracy than before.
Several NSC officials have already given horrific testimonies to the House committees, and a CIA official, who first signaled the presidential telephone conversation with Ukrainian Vladimir Zelensky, is reported to be a CIA employee, described in detail to CIA staff. NSC. President Trump likened the signalers and officials who spoke to him to spies.
So far, Brian, who took over from the ousted Conservative Hawk Bolton in September, seems confident in his approach.
"We're streamlining the National Security Council," he told CBS News on Sunday on Face the Nation. "We don't need to recreate the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security in the White House. We have great diplomats and soldiers and ̵
POLITICO talks to several current and former Trump administration officials and external experts to get acquainted with the changes. Most demanded anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, although Brian himself was quite open to his plans.
The NSC is supposed to act as a body that coordinates US national security and foreign policy throughout the executive branch. Its influence varies depending on the administration.
Trump administration officials say the goal is to reduce NSC policy staff to less than 120 people by January. According to O'Brien, the number is down from 174. The figure does not include technical and support staff at the institution, which is not expected to cut much.
O'Brien stated that he was seeking a figure of political staff similar to that existing in the NSC during the first term of then-President George W. Bush. These numbers have steadily increased – and often exact numbers are not revealed – to the point where President Barack Obama had more than 200 political slots.
The Obama team shrinks the body somewhat in recent years, and Trump continues to do so.
Much of the shrinkage under O'Brien will be numb: most NSC policymakers are detailed by other agencies or departments, such as the Pentagon, usually in a year or two. As their details complete, fewer people can expect extensions. Their roles will remain vacant.
The NSC sectors that will lose the most slots are the so-called "Functional Directorates". Functional directorates deal with topics that are not geography-related, such as human rights or anti-terrorism.
At least two functional directorates – strategic planning and new technologies – are being phased out, said current and former NSC employees. The International Economics Directorate, previously reported to both the NSC and the National Economic Council, will now only report to the NEC.
An administration official said that the strategic planning department had already accomplished its core mission: developing Trump's national security strategy. The head of the department, Kevin Harrington, was named a strategic advisor to O & # 39; Brian and was instructed to "make a net evaluation of all our strategies to see how effective our strategies are," the official said.
Emerging technologies, which in theory deal with topics such as artificial intelligence, are seen as having lower results and duplicating other parts of government.
The relocation of the International Economics Directorate is partly to clarify who is responsible for it, current and former NSC officials said. There were complaints that when people on this team had a dual reporting structure, in interagency discussions, they would play one or the other depending on what was useful to them.
O'Brien also has no plans to revive the Homeland Security Council, which essentially only exists on paper, having originally been a Trump headquarters.
The counterparts of the functional directorates are the regional directorates – for example, dealing with Europe, the Middle East or South Asia.