Bolton and Trump had significant disagreements on Iran, Afghanistan and a cascade of other global challenges.
US 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.
“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration,” Trump tweeted.
“I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week,” he added.
I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore….
Bolton, however, said in a tweet that he had offered his resignation on Monday night and Trump said, “let’s talk about it tomorrow”.
I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, “Let’s talk about it tomorrow.”
The departure comes at a trying moment for the Trump administration on the world stage, weeks before 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.
Bolton held a press briefing with Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin later on Tuesday.
During that briefing, Pompeo said there were definitely policy areas where he had different views from Bolton on how to proceed.
‘A bridge too far’
Bolton, a leading foreign policy hawk, was widely known to have pressed the president for a harder line on issues such as North Korea. Also a chief architect of Trump’s strong stance on Iran, Bolton had advocated a tougher approach on Russia and Afghanistan.
Most recently, there was reportedly significant disagreement within the administration over Trump’s decision to host a now-cancelled meeting with Taliban leaders at Camp David.
US Senator Lindsey Graham, who was travelling with Trump on 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 NSA’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 the 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.
Bolton was Trump’s third NSA after Michael Flynn and HR McMaster.
He was a surprise pick at the time, with a world view seemingly ill-fit to the president’s isolationist “America First” pronouncements.
Trump had sometimes joked about Bolton’s image as a warmonger, reportedly saying in one Oval Office meeting that “John has never seen a war he doesn’t like”.