During The 11th Hour With Brian Williams, the former Nightly News host said that the feud between career government officials and the President over his executive order to ban immigration from seven terrorist-haven nations is like Trump wanting to "break furniture." The remark came after the admininistration fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama apointee, for not enforcing the immigration order.
Williams said, "It's tough to be an institutionalist with an incoming administration...that was designed to break furniture."
The segment transitioned to discussing the promotion of Chief Strategist Steve Bannon to the Principals Commitee, which is part of the National Security Council, and the supposed demotion of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said this move is not uncommon and cited two memos -- one from 2001 by Presdient George W. Bush and one from 2009 by President Barack Obama -- and mentioned former Obama political adviser David Axelrod attending such meetings.
“The idea that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and DNI are being downgraded or removed is utter nonsense,” Spicer said.
"And we have a pattern here emerging even though it's nine days in which is the president versus expertise. The President versus professional State Department foreign service officers. The President versus professional CIA officers. The president sewing chaos among those responsible for border patrol," national security analyst Jeremy Bash told Williams Monday night. "If you don't accept facts and don't accept expertise, you're not going to be able to manage national security crises, real national security crises, when they come and hit you over the forehead like a 2 X 4."
Bash added, "Imagine if Obama had said the chairman of the joint chiefs will come when I ask him to come in the room, but I'm putting the editor of BuzzFeed on the principals' committee. I mean, would Republicans be -- have a mind-blowing experience or what?"
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Here's a transcript of the January 30 exchange:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: From your lips. Jeremy -- He has to worry about losing ten senators or three senators. At the end of the day he better get used to bad numbers because they're going to be in -- Here's another number, 100, the Chicago Tribune reporting 100 career folks over at the State Department are signing on to a letter disagreeing with this direction and it also seems to me the names we've been discussing and add to that, Schumer, McConnell, Graham, McCain, they are institutionalists as well. It's tough to be an institutionalist with an incoming administration as Ed correctly points out that was designed to break furniture.
NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST JEREMY BASH: And we have a pattern here emerging even though it's nine days in which is the president versus expertise. The President versus professional State Department foreign service officers. The President versus professional CIA officers. The President sewing chaos among those responsible for border patrol. If you don't accept facts and don't accept expertise, you're not going to be able to manage national security crises, real national security crises, when they come and hit you over the forehead like a 2 X 4. As we reach for historical precedence, I was thinking a little bit about the mid-2000s and President Bush, Nicolle's old boss, had a run-in with an attorney general over warrantless surveillance, the famous bedside scene where somebody named Jim Comey had to go to the White House to the Chief of Staff and say, hey, we're not going to sign off on this order. President Bush brought everybody into the Oval Office, talked everybody down, he worked it out, they made modifications to the program. Wasn't acceptable to everybody, we were able to protect the country and keep America safe, but he had the temperament to bring people together. That's what I think is necessary when you have a crisis like we're seeing unfold tonight.
WILLIAMS: And he sided with the career professionals. I mean, he ultimately sided with FBI Director Bob Mueller and think it was Deputy Attorney General Comey.
BASH: Yes. I don't think you're going to change a 70-year-old man who basically ran he's going to come and be the change agent of Washington and don't think his constituents across the country are going to basically want him to alter his behavior. I think he'll immeasurably among that crowd be very -- they'll be pleased he fired the acting attorney general tonight. I'm trying to tell you what I sense. And I think to a certain extent, he promised he's going to be different and clearly in the first eight, nine days.
WILLIAMS: Do can you think they care about -- I agree with everything you just said, I think they thought they were hiring a very effective businessman who made himself very rich because he's good at running things.
BASH: The key thing is we have to make a judgment later down the road whether he's competent. I think he is competent. I think it's ING curve. I would hate to have made these decisions in the first eight, nine days I was in the White House.
WILLIAMS: We reached the bottom of the hour, usual end time for this broadcast. Not tonight.
BASH: All of the Cabinet secretaries and National Security Adviser and tee up the big decisions for the President and when the President walks into the room, it confirms into a NSC, National Security Council meeting. What the Trump Administration did, they said with regard to this P.C., the Principles Committee, that the Director of National Intelligence and Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff have to get a particular invitation to attend the meeting, but that the Chief Strategist, Mr. Bannon, is automatically entitled to be there so they upgraded him as a permanent member of this group and they downgraded the chairman. Now, I just want people to think about this tonight, and I love Ed's prospective on this, imagine if Obama had said the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs will come when I ask him to come in the room, but I'm putting the editor of BuzzFeed on the Principles Committee. I mean, would Republicans be -- have a mind-blowing experience or what?