A former senior figure at the National Security Council, the high-level advisory panel of military and intelligence leaders who counsel the president on national security policy, has resigned from the CIA in the wake of President Donald Trump's whirlwind first few weeks in office.
Edward Price, a career CIA employee who served as an NSC spokesman for three years until last month, penned an op-ed in the Washington Post explaining he had resigned over Trump's "disturbing" actions. Price cited Trump's casual dismissal of evidence linking Russia to hacks of Democratic Party targets during the election as well as "ego and bluster" during an address to intelligence officials at the CIA in January.
The "final straw" was when the CIA director and director of national intelligence were cut as NSC principals and replaced with "the president’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, who cut his teeth as a media champion of white nationalism," Price wrote.
"The public outcry led the administration to reverse course and name the CIA director an NSC principal, but the White House’s inclination was clear," Price added. "It has little need for intelligence professionals who, in speaking truth to power, might challenge the 'America First' orthodoxy that sees Russia as an ally and Australia as a punching bag."
This weekend, news broke Trump's administration terminated Western Hemisphere division chief Craig Deare for publicly criticizing the president over tense relations with Mexico. Last week, then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned amid controversy over a pre-inaugural phone call he had with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and then lied about betrayed double loyalties.
Rumors have filtered out of the NSC, however, that Bannon has formed a sort of shadow NSC within the organization, and that administration appointees like Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner have been formulating foreign policy without consultation from NSC directorates. Bannon has a harsh view of global geopolitics, including a vocal belief the U.S. will inevitably go to war with China and that Islam poses an existential threat to the future of the Western world.
Correction: Feb. 21, 2017
A previous version of this article and its headline misstated Edward Price's role. He is a former National Security Council spokesperson, having served until last month.