Trump dismisses John Bolton, says they ‘disagreed strongly’
WASHINGTON (AP) — United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday forced out John Bolton, his hawkish national security adviser with whom he had significant disagreements on Iran, Afghanistan and a cascade of other global challenges.
The two men offered opposing accounts on Bolton’s less than friendly departure, a leave-taking example of what had been a fractious relationship almost from the start.
Trump tweeted that he told Bolton Monday night his services were no longer needed at the White House and Bolton submitted his resignation Tuesday morning. Bolton responded in a tweet of his own that he offered to resign Monday “and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow.’”
Trump said that he had “disagreed strongly” with many of Bolton’s suggestions as national security adviser, “as did others in the administration.”
The departure comes at a trying moment for the Trump administration on the world stage, weeks ahead of the United Nations General Assembly and as the president faces pressing decisions on a host of foreign policy issues.
In recent months, tensions have risen between Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over influence in the president’s orbit and how to manage the president’s desire to negotiate with some of the world’s most unsavoury actors.
Since joining the administration in the spring of last year, Bolton has espoused skepticism about the president’s whirlwind rapprochement with North Korea and has advocated against Trump’s decision last year to pull US troops out of Syria. He masterminded a quiet campaign inside the administration and with allies abroad to persuade Trump to keep US forces in Syria to counter the remnants of the Islamic State and Iranian influence in the region.
Bolton was also opposed to Trump’s now-scrapped notion to bring Taliban negotiators to Camp David last weekend to try to finalise a peace deal in Afghanistan.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was traveling with Trump Monday, said reports of Bolton’s dissent on the Taliban meeting was a “bridge too far” for Trump.
One Republican familiar with the disagreements between Trump and Bolton said the adviser’s opposition to a possible meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was a precipitating factor in the dismissal. French President Emmanuel Macron has been trying to broker such a meeting, possibly on the sidelines of the upcoming UN General Assembly, in the hope of salvaging the international Iran nuclear deal that Trump withdrew from.
Bolton and his National Security Council staff were also viewed warily by some in the White House who viewed them as more attuned to their own agendas than the president’s — and some administration aides have accused Bolton’s staff of being behind leaks of information embarrassing to Trump.