Trump dumps national security adviser Bolton after months of disagreements
(Update 2: adds byline, rewrites throughout)
John Bolton speaks to reporters at Independence Palace in Minsk on Aug. 29, 2019. EFE-EPA FILE/TATYANA ZENKOVICH
US President Donald Trump (L) delivers remarks to members of the news media beside US Labor Secretary Alex Acosta (R), before departing the South Lawn of the White House in Washington DC, USA, July 12, 2019. EPA-EFE FILE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS
Former US Defense Secretary James Mattis gestures during a joint press conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (both not pictured), in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 27, 2017. EPA-EFE FILE/JAWAD JALALI
Former US Attorney Jeff Sessions speaks during the Farewell Ceremony for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at the Department Justice in Washington DC, USA, May 9, 2019. EPA-EFE FILE/ERIK S. LESSER
Former FBI Director James Comey delivers remarks to members of the news media after finishing his testimony before members of the House Judiciary and House Oversight and Government Reform Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, USA, Dec. 17, 2018. EPA-EFE FILE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly gives a press conference in Washington DC, USA, Oct. 12, 2017. EPA-EFE FILE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS
(Update 2: adds byline, rewrites throughout)
By Lucia Leal.
Washington DC, Sep 10 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he had fired his controversial national security adviser, John Bolton, after months of disagreements on key foreign policy issues, including Venezuela, Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan.
In two tweets, Trump broke his relationship with one of the most well-known and criticized members of his team, a diehard hawk with an interventionist reputation who contributed to increasing tensions with Iran and put the White House on a battle footing vis-a-vis the "troika of tyranny" - Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
"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... I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning," the president said in successive tweets.
"I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week," Trump wrote.
Bolton did not delay in publicly releasing his own version of what had occurred, saying on his own Twitter account: "I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, 'Let's talk about it tomorrow.'"
The ex-national security adviser then proceeded to send text messages to numerous journalists in Washington, including one of the anchors at Fox News - Trump's favorite network - Brian Kilmeade, who read the missive on live TV, saying "John Bolton just texted me. Just now, he's watching. He said 'let's be clear: I resigned.'"
CNN reported that Trump and Bolton on Monday evening discussed the president's plan to meet with Taliban leaders at Camp David, an initiative that the president abruptly cancelled after the insurgent group mounted an attack in Afghanistan that killed a US soldier.
But White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham denied that differences over Afghanistan were "the straw that broke the camel's back."
The relationship between Trump and Bolton had been deteriorating at least since May, when the president showed signs of frustration over the lack of results up to that point in driving Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from power, after the administration in January had begun an international campaign to move opposition leader Juan Guaido into the presidency.
Shortly before joining the White House team last year, Bolton had lobbied for going to war against North Korea and Iran, and he always viewed the process of semi-detente with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with a jaundiced eye, although Trump quickly made dealings with Pyongyang a priority issue in his foreign policy.
Trump's clear desire to mount a similar dialogue with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also irritated Bolton, a fiery defender of exerting maximum pressure on Tehran and who had openly lobbied for regime change there.
His departure two weeks before the United National General Assembly session sparked speculation that Trump may have wanted to dump Bolton to clear the way for a possible meeting in New York with Rouhani, who up to now has refused any such get-together.
"I don't think any leader around the world should make any assumption that because someone of us departs that President Trump's foreign policy will change in a material way," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a White House press conference on Tuesday.
Rumors about growing rows between Bolton and Pompeo had been gaining strength over the past week, and Pompeo said at the press conference that it was clear that he and the former national security adviser had disagreed at times, adding that Trump has the right to surround himself with the people he wants. EFE-EPA
Bolton's departure removes a counterweight to Trump's foreign policy
By Vivian Salama and Isabel Coles
Washington DC/Beirut, Sep 10 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump has rewritten the United States' foreign policy playbook with his willingness to meet anyone and go anywhere to get a deal.
With his hawkish national security adviser John Bolton gone, Trump has removed one of the last dissenting voices on his impulses and instincts, Dow Jones said in a report made available to EFE on Tuesday.
So far, Trump has become the first president to set foot in North Korea and to meet its leader and has sought to forge close ties to Russia's president.
Bolton's exit could remove a barrier to a meeting at the United Nations with Iran's president later this month, or to talks with members of the insurgent Afghan Taliban movement.
"From the outset, Trump has had two voices whispering in his ears: the one counseling diplomacy and the other recommending belligerence," said Rob Malley, who was an adviser to former President Barack Obama and now heads the International Crisis Group in Washington.
"With Bolton gone, the second voice undeniably has lost its loudest proponent. That could create new opportunities for diplomacy on Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea and Venezuela," he added.
The formalities and discipline of diplomacy were a tough fit for Trump from the start. He ran for office as a Republican but has few apparent ties to the party's traditionally conservative philosophy on foreign-policy matters.
He often cites his flexibility as a way to reassure people that some of his more unconventional and controversial proposals are subject to change.
Trump has said he shuns the need for consensus, hailing opposing views among his top advisers as an asset. As one of the last independent foreign policy voices in the administration, Bolton conveyed an unapologetic, ultra-hawkish but experienced view that frequently contradicted Trump's boisterous but anti-militaristic approach to foreign policy matters.
Bolton joined the administration in April 2018, a point at which some of the administration's more moderate figures were already gone. With Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a fellow hawk, Trump's foreign policy was expected to take a dramatic turn.
But Trump has opted for dialogue over conflict. For instance, he shelved plans, supported by Bolton, for a retaliatory strike after Iran shot down a US drone in June.
Asked about his differences with his then-national security adviser on Iran, Trump told reporters: "I temper John – which is pretty amazing."
Iran's government spokesman, Ali Rabiei, applauded Bolton's departure in a post on Twitter.
"Months ago, John Bolton had promised that Iran would not be there in 3 months; we are still standing & he is gone. With the ousting of its biggest proponent of war & economic terrorism, the White House will have fewer obstacles to understanding the realities of Iran," Rabiei wrote.
Pompeo said Tuesday at the White House that Trump would be willing to meet with the Iranian president. "The president has made very clear he is prepared to meet with no preconditions," he said.
Trump has engaged in trade battles around the world, but opted to maintain a measured response on protests in Hong Kong so not to disrupt his trade talks with China, even as Republican lawmakers offered public support for the demonstrators.
Despite pressure from Bolton and others, including many Republicans in Congress, Trump continues to tread softly on the question of sanctions against Turkey after Ankara's recent decision to buy a Russian air-defense system, a move that prompted Washington to withhold sales of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s advanced F-35 stealth jet fighters to the country.
Bolton's outspoken advocacy for tougher action against Venezuela and Cuba was a source of great tension within the administration. Trump has become increasingly frustrated that his gamble on regime change in Caracas through economic pressure isn't paying off.
Trump has drawn criticism for rushing into international negotiations without careful preparation. While Bolton's departure opens the door to talks negotiations with Iran, it could worry key US allies in the Middle East, including Persian Gulf nations and Israel, who believed that the Obama-era of greater accommodation with Iran was over, said Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute.
"The bottom line is it means uncertainty," Pletka said of Bolton's exit. "Uncertainty in foreign policy, just like in economics, is not a good thing."
With Bolton's departure, the Trump administration also is losing one of its more experienced policy makers. Bolton's deputy will fill the job until Trump appoints a new full-time adviser.
The vacancy at the National Security Council, which Bolton headed, occurs as Trump is trying to find someone to lead the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which has been vacant since Dan Coats resigned in July.
Similarly, the Department of Homeland Security has had an acting director since the resignation of Kirstjen Nielsen in April.
At the Defense Department, Secretary Mark Esper started work in his post after his Senate confirmation in July, months after the resignation of former Secretary Jim Mattis over differences with Trump.
Pompeo, a key Trump ally, has been in place since 2018, and before that was director of the Central Intelligence Agency. However, he has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Senate from Kansas, and key lawmakers were unable to predict whether Bolton's departure would have an effect on his calculations.
"I would guess on the Pompeo side of the equation is that his role in the administration, or his influence, becomes more important," said Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS). "If you're looking for stability you wouldn't want, in this case, another cabinet member to depart."
Bolton and Pompeo were expected to repair a long-dormant inter-agency process of decision-making and policy formulation within the executive branch that was plagued by a lack of coordination.
But the process has continued to lead to diverging public statements between the White House and agencies, such as when Trump said talks with the Taliban were dead after Pompeo said he hoped they resume.
Bolton opposed the administration's opening to the Taliban.EFE-EPA
"You're fired!" – The Trump administration's 6 most controversial departures
By Beatriz Pascual Macías
Washington DC, Sep 10 (efe-epa).- United States President Donald Trump has made the resignations and firings of administration officials into a veritable reality show, whose protagonists often find out about their terminations via presidential Twitter posts.
The media expectation surrounding these cabinet departures are a reflection of the popular network show "The Apprentice" that turned Trump into a household name with his aggressive catchphrase "You're fired!"
The following are the six officials who left the administration amid the most controversy:
1. JOHN BOLTON, THE HAWK WHO WAS EVEN MORE BELLIGERENT THAN TRUMP
Trump only needed two tweets to dispatch his national security adviser, John Bolton, a foreign policy "hawk" with a penchant for interventionism.
"I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House," Trump wrote on the social media platform on Tuesday.
During his 17 months at the White House, Bolton increased tensions with Iran and ramped up the diplomatic pressure on the three countries he dubbed the "Troika of Tyranny," Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
The relationship between Trump and Bolton had been becoming more and more strained due to the president's frustration with the lack of progress in the strategy against Venezuela.
However, the straw that broke the camel's back was Bolton's opposition to Trump's negotiation with the Taliban, the main player in Afghanistan's militant insurgency.
2. ALEX ACOSTA, AN OUSTER FUELED BY THE EPSTEIN SCANDAL
Alex Acosta, Trump's labor secretary for more than two years and the only Hispanic cabinet member, was forced to resign over his role in the scandal involving business mogul Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of child sex trafficking and committed suicide on Aug. 10 while in jail.
As a federal prosecutor in Miami in 2008, Acosta reached a deal with Epstein that allowed the millionaire to dodge a trial for allegedly raping several teenage girls in one of his mansions in Palm Beach, Florida.
On this occasion, Trump praised Acosta, but he said he understood that the latter did not want the Epstein scandal to become a distraction within the government.
3. JAMES MATTIS, THE HONORABLE GENERAL
If there's one resignation that has impacted the global chessboard it is that of Gen. James Mattis, who served as Trump's defense secretary between January 2017 and January 2019.
Mattis tendered his resignation in December 2018 after failing to persuade Trump to keep US troops deployed in Syria.
The letter in which Mattis announced he was quitting caused a stir in the press. In it, the general gave an impassioned defense of the US' system of alliances throughout the world and argued that Washington should treat its allies with respect as well as be "resolute and unequivocal" with its geopolitical rivals, such as China and Russia.
Mattis' letter instantly provoked Trump's ire. The president forced the general to leave ahead of schedule: Mattis stepped down as Pentagon chief on Jan. 1 instead of at the end February, as he had planned.
4. JEFF SESSIONS, FROM LOVE TO HATE
As in Mattis' case, Trump also went from love to hate in his attitude toward Jeff Sessions, a key surrogate in his presidential campaign who served as attorney general between January 2017-November 2018.
The former Alabama senator stoked Trump's ire when he decided to recuse himself from the justice department's investigation into the multiple ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Trump even said that, had he known Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation, he would never have picked him to lead the Department of Justice.
On countless occasions, Trump took to Twitter to mock and ridicule Sessions: he called him "weak" and repeatedly condemned what he described as Sessions' "disgraceful" behavior.
5. JAMES COMEY, OR FINDING OUT YOU'VE BEEN FIRED VIA TV
James Comey, the ousted former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, found out Trump had fired him while he was at an event with FBI agents in Los Angeles, California. Suddenly, the television screens in the room flared up with a CNN chyron telling viewers that Comey was leaving the administration.
At the time, Comey thought it was a joke and even chuckled before receiving confirmation that the White House had actually told the media of his firing before informing him.
However, Comey later sought revenge and told lawmakers in Congress and several media outlets about some of the skeletons in Trump's closet. For instance, he revealed that the president had pressured him to shut down the investigation into his then-national security adviser, Michael Flynn, one of the key subjects in the Russian electoral meddling case.
6. JOHN KELLY, THE GENERAL WHO GOT TIRED OF TRYING TO IMPOSE ORDER
Gen. John Kelly arrived at the White House in July 2017 as chief of staff with the difficult mission of imposing order in a West Wing consumed by power struggles between staffers. He managed to instill some discipline among Trump's inner circle, but he failed miserably to do so with the president himself, who preferred to continue with his chaotic style and unorthodox Twitter announcements.
Their relationship reached a peak of tension when Kelly criticized Trump in front of a group of lawmakers, which poked the president's notorious rage.
The result was a curt statement by Trump to the press: "John Kelly will be leaving toward the end of the year."
And that is exactly what happened. EFE-EPA