The White House National Security Council confirmed Monday that it’s moving ahead with plans to reduce staffing levels in the office after a buildup of personnel during the Obama administration.
“This month, we will complete the right-sizing goal Ambassador O’Brien outlined in October, and in fact may exceed that target by drawing down even more positions,” said John Ullyot, senior director for strategic communications at the NSC.
When completed, the push is expected to cut more than 70 policy positions from NSC since Robert O’Brien took over in September from ousted National Security Adviser John R. Bolton.
Two staffers moved out last week were Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who had testified against President Trump in his impeachment inquiry, and his twin brother, Yevgeny. The president said over the weekend that Lt. Col. Vindman deserved to be ousted for being “insubordinate.”
Mr. O’Brien said last fall that the NSC had “ballooned to well over 200 policy positions” under President Obama, and that he wanted to reduce staffing to fewer than 120 positions by early 2020, a figure closer to the level during the administration of President George W. Bush. He told The Washington Times in December that more than 40 staffers had already been moved out.
Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning said he believes Mr. O’Brien is engaged in “a long-needed downsizing of the bloated NSC” that should address “the heart of the resistance against President Trump.”
Mr. Manning said some Obama-era staffers had been quoted in the media “bragging that they saw their job as being to block President Trump’s policies.”
“It is important to have dissenting on foreign policy within any administration, however, the dissenting views must cease once the president has set a policy direction,” Mr. Manning said. “Unfortunately, the Obama holdovers have been simply trying to run out the clock on the Trump presidency rather than serving and supporting the administration’s goals.”©
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