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John Bolton out as national security adviser, Trump tweets services no longer ‘needed’

President Trump said Tuesday he pushed out his national security adviser, John R. Bolton, because he “disagreed” strongly with his suggestions and so did others. “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…

President Trump said Tuesday he pushed out his national security adviser, John R. Bolton, because he “disagreed” strongly with his suggestions and so did others.

“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,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter.

An NSA deputy, Charlie Kupperman, will serve as acting national security adviser, according to the White House.

Mr. Bolton was swiftly subtracted from a White House briefing he was slated to attend Tuesday with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

“The president’s entitled to the staff that he wants,” Mr. Pompeo told reporters. “When the president makes a decision like this, he’s well within his rights.”



The secretary said he wouldn’t dish on “palace intrigue,” though smiled in suggesting it’s tough to catch him off guard in this administration: “I’m never surprised.

Mr. Bolton’s ousting caused shockwaves through Washington, though there had been multiple reports of tensions between Mr. Bolton and Mr. Pompeo on some of Mr. Trump’s biggest foreign policy initiatives, including the now-collapsed peace deal with Afghanistan’s Taliban and the nuclear talks with North Korea.

“I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow,’ ” Mr. Bolton tweeted Tuesday. He also signaled to various media outlets that he resigned, resisting the narrative he was fired.

Yet White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters that Mr. Trump asked for Mr. Bolton’s resignation late Monday. He said Mr. Bolton’s priorities and policies “just don’t line up with the president’s.”

“There is no one issue here,” Mr. Gidley said. “They just didn’t align on many issues.”

Mr. Bolton, a noted hawk on North Korea as a private analyst, was famously touring in Mongolia when Mr. Trump made a surprise visit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un this summer at the border between North and South Korea.

Mr. Bolton reportedly argued against the proposed deal “in principle” that Mr. Trump was weighing with Afghanistan’s Taliban, saying the Pentagon could begin Mr. Trump’s withdrawal of troops from the country without striking a deal with the radical Islamist militant movement.

Mr. Bolton was one of the administration’s most reliably hawkish voices, urging a tough line against the socialist government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the theocratic government in Iran. He also had a reputation as a feared bureaucratic infighter.

Speculation about whether Mr. Bolton may be fired or on the verge of stepping down has swirled for months among U.S. national security analysts.

Several of whom have spoken on condition of anonymity with The Washington Times in recent weeks, saying Mr. Trump was weighing the decision carefully and had even secretly interviewed possible replacements.

However, others, including some with close ties to the administration, had claimed as recently as this week hat Mr. Trump was happy with Mr. Bolton.

One former U.S. official told The Washington Times on Monday that “Bolton is going to be there for the long haul. He’s not going anywhere.”

Mr. Trump was seen to have openly criticized Mr. Bolton during a June interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” although the president also said that he appreciated having Mr. Bolton as a conservative foreign policy hardliner on his national security team.

John Bolton is absolutely a hawk,” Mr. Trump said at the time. “If it was up to him, he’d take on the whole world at one time, OK? But that doesn’t matter because I want both sides.”

By Tuesday, though, Mr. Trump said he’d had enough.

“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,” Mr. Trump tweeted.

Reaction from Capitol Hill started to pour in.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican and key Trump ally, said he liked Mr. Bolton but that the president deserved to feel comfortable with his team.

“As national security adviser to President Trump, I found him to be accessible and always pursuing an agenda that not only helps the president but makes America safe,” Mr. Graham said. “President Trump, like every other president, has the right to a national security adviser of his own choosing.”

Democrats, meanwhile, said they were happy to see Mr. Bolton go.

John Bolton is the architect of the Iraq war, the reason for our lack of an Iran strategy, and responsible for the pointless deaths of thousands of Americans. Good riddance. I hope his replacement is less incompetent,” Rep. Ruben Gallego, Arizona Democrat and member of the House Armed Services Committee, said on Twitter.

Other Democrats said while they weren’t fans of Mr. Bolton, either, although they worried the ousting was another sign of chaos in the Trump White House.

Mr. Bolton was pushed out the same day Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, received a sentencing date in his long-running legal case stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

“Today’s action by the president is just the latest example of his government-by-chaos approach and his rudderless national security policy,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said. “When Ambassador Bolton’s extreme views aren’t enough for you, the United States is headed for even more chaotic times.”

A firing-via-tweet would normally be viewed as unusual, but it’s become commonplace in Mr. Trump’s Washington.

The president frequently makes major news via his account. He announced the firing of his first secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, on Twitter and the White House recently announced increased tariffs on China by simply copying and pasting Mr. Trump’s latest tweet into an official statement.

Lauren Meier contributed to this story.

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