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President Donald Trump's move to elevate chief strategist Steve Bannon to a higher position in the National Security Council isn't disturbing itself, but the displacement of two key staffers from foreign policy meetings is, a former U.S. ambassador said Monday.
Michael McFaul, former ambassador to Russia, told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" that although he doesn't agree with Bannon's views, he would rather see him at meetings with Trump and other security officials than being exclusively a one-on-one advisor to the president.
At a news conference Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that there was no downgrade of position of any kind for the director of National Intelligence or the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
What McFaul found more disturbing is the displacement of the director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The two are now only permitted to attend meetings when "issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed," according to a presidential memorandum released Saturday.
Bannon will join the principals committee, the National Security Council's top interagency group that coordinates with the State Department and Pentagon to assist the president in navigating foreign policy matters.
"To not have the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at all National Security Council meetings I think is a huge mistake. You need that expertise at every meeting," McFaul said. "And same with the director of National Intelligence."
McFaul argued that because intelligence organizations like the CIA and National Intelligence don't always agree, it's better to have a variety of voices rather than just one agency's view.
Alexander Vershbow, a former NATO deputy secretary general and another former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, agreed. "Any meeting needs to have a solid basis in intelligence," he told "Squawk Alley."
"I can't think of any subject that's going to be addressed at the NSC level or at the Cabinet level that's going to not require the perspective of our intelligence agencies," Vershbow continued.
He added that "the chairman of the Joint Chiefs brings professional military advice to any crisis discussion," making his attendance essential.