John Bolton ― who was notoriously hawkish with his strategy on Iran, North Korea and Syria ― will leave his position as White House national security adviser.
“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,” President Donald Trump announced Tuesday in a pair of tweets. “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.”
Bolton has continually supported and defended the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Critics have long panned his aggressive foreign policy approach and eagerness for war, both of which frequently clashed with Trump’s own approach to military intervention.
“I thank John very much for his service,” Trump said, noting that he plans to name Bolton’s replacement next week. Charlie Kupperman, who was deputy national security adviser under Bolton, will fill in as the acting adviser.
In a tweet of his own, Bolton said he had offered to resign Monday evening but Trump responded, “Let’s talk about it tomorrow.”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham took issue with Bolton’s apparent suggestion that he left voluntarily, claiming in a text to The Daily Beast that Trump had in fact demanded Bolton’s resignation.
The national security adviser was expected to appear at a White House security briefing early Tuesday afternoon alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Bolton, who served in the Trump administration for more than a year, has worked for every Republican president since Ronald Reagan. He was Trump’s third national security adviser since his January 2017 inauguration, following Michael Flynn and H.R. McMaster. (Former President Barack Obama had three national security advisers over his two terms; President George W. Bush had two.)
Some of the president’s allies commended the decision to fire Bolton; Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said it was a “necessary action.”
California’s Democratic former Gov. Jerry Brown took a different tone: “Good riddance,” he said of the national security adviser.
Bolton’s departure follows reports of growing tensions between the national security adviser and the president earlier this year.
“I disagree very much with John Bolton. His attitude in the Middle East and Iraq — was going into Iraq,” the president told reporters in June. “I think that was a big mistake and I’ve been proven right.”
After Iran shot down a U.S. drone in June, Trump called off a retaliatory military strike, calling it a disproportionate response. Bolton has long advocated for military action in Iran but did not publicly oppose Trump’s decision.
“I have two groups of people: I have doves and I have hawks,” Trump said when asked on “Meet the Press” if his advisers were pressuring him into taking military action. “John Bolton is absolutely a hawk. If it was up to him, he’d take on the whole world at one time.”
More recently, Bolton was reported to have torpedoed a potential summit between the Trump administration and Taliban leaders for which Pompeo had advocated, according to The New York Times. The leaders would have discussed a pathway to peace as U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan reaches its 18th year, pursuant to Trump’s promise to roll back U.S. troop levels in the region.
Bolton’s position on the potential peace plan frustrated Trump, The Washington Post reported.
Prior to joining the White House, Bolton advocated for a preemptive strike on North Korea, though the president has often touted his diplomatic relationship with the country as one of the major successes of his presidency. When Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June, Bolton was notably absent.
Yet he did align with Trump on birtherism, the racist movement spearheaded by Trump, having once joked that Obama was a Muslim.
This story has been updated throughout.