Donald Trump is in the process of making dramatic headcount cuts to the National Security Council, five sources told Bloomberg.
The effort to cull the NSC comes amid a spiraling impeachment probe that on Friday found House Democrats making good on a threat subpoena acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who reportedly conveyed Trump’s plans for the NSC to senior officials this week.
Some sources are pitching this as drive to make the NSC more efficient under new national security advisor Robert O’Brien, whose predecessors (John Bolton and a sentient flaming mustache) resigned last month following a dispute over the best way to plunge the US into a devastating war with Iran.
“Two of the people familiar with the decision to shrink the NSC insisted it was largely rooted in both the transition to O’Brien’s leadership as well as Trump’s desire to increase efficiency at the agency, which grew under former President Barack Obama”, Bloomberg said on Saturday. “About 310 people currently work at the NSC”.
All pretensions to “streamlining” aside, any move to trim the proverbial fat at the NSC is a clear effort on Trump’s part to limit the number of potential “leakers” (or “spies” as he calls them) at a time when revelations about the president’s calls with foreign leaders have morphed from embarrassing to devastating and now pose an existential threat to the presidency.
The author of the whistle-blower complaint at the heart of the impeachment inquiry is said to be a CIA official. On Friday evening, reports suggested a second complaint may be in the offing, potentially penned by an official even closer to the White House.
This NSC move doesn’t necessarily foretell layoffs, though. A sizable percentage of the council’s employees come from State, DoD and other intelligence agencies. Congress has, in the past, sought to trim the size of the agency.
Suffice to say that if Trump’s goal in the cuts is to limit leaks, it’s far too late.