- The Washington Times - Monday, January 30, 2017

The White House pushed back Monday against critics of President Trump’s reorganization of the National Security Council, saying claims that the role of top intelligence officials had been downgraded was “utter nonsense.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer singled out Susan Rice, a national security adviser to President Obama, over Twitter posts in which she assailed the reorganization plan and accused Mr. Trump of leaving the CIA off the committee.

He noted that Mr. Obama didn’t include the CIA from the Security Council meetings with the president and Mr. Trump restored the CIA’s participation in the meetings.

“It was the Obama administration that didn’t have it in. So to answer the former national security adviser’s tweet, the CIA is in ours and it wasn’t in theirs,” said Mr. Spicer.

He said the news media also had mischaracterized the reorganization as reducing the role of the Director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Those positions were eliminated from mandatory attendance at meetings of the principles committee, which do not include the president and often deal with issues unrelated to the military.

“The idea is that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and DNI are being downgraded or removed is utter nonsense,” he said. They are at every NSC meeting and are welcome to attend the principal meetings as well.”

Mr. Spicer stressed that the language in Mr. Trump’s memorandum requiring attendance by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the DNI at National Security Committee meetings was nearly identical to the language used by Mr. Obama in 2009 and President George W. Bush in 2001.

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