The Oval Office is no longer off-limits to certain National Security Council staff during President Donald Trump's calls to foreign leaders, Politico reports.
National security adviser H.R. McMaster allowed senior and country directors from the NSC to join Trump and McMaster's deputy, K.T. McFarland, for conversations with the leaders of Israel, South Korea, Japan and Kenya.
McMaster's predecessor, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, had the senior directors stay in the Situation Room during state calls.
By comparison, a senior director for the region and the country director would remain in the room for the call state calls under former President Barack Obama.
"If there's an issue that the president wasn't prepared for, he would look around the room for guidance," Brian McKeon, the former chief of staff for the NSC in the Obama administration, told Politico.
"In previous administrations, the senior director almost always would be in the Oval Office and brief the president for a few minutes prior to the call, assessing what the foreign leader would likely say and explaining U.S. objectives. He or she would then listen in and scribble a note if something unexpected came up," Sandy Vershbow, former NSC senior director for European affairs in Bill Clinton's administration, told Politico.
McMaster also eliminated two deputy assistant jobs created by Flynn, one that monitors transnational issues and one that watches the council's regional offices.
"McMaster took a look at them and thought he didn't need the extra layer," a White House aide told Politico, referring to the eliminated positions. "He wanted to go back to the way it had been prior."
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