BFF-01,02 Trump fires hawkish national security chief Bolton






Trump fires hawkish national security chief Bolton

WASHINGTON, Sept 11, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced the firing of

hawkish national security advisor John Bolton, a move widely seen as boosting the president’s

push to negotiate with US foes in Afghanistan, North Korea and other trouble spots.

Trump, who said he had disagreed “strongly” with Bolton on policy, announced via Twitter: “I

asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning.”

A replacement — the White House’s fourth national security chief in less than three years —

would be named next week, Trump said.

Bolton, who had been scheduled to give a press conference at the White House on an unrelated

matter, denied being fired and insisted that he had resigned.

The news, coming days after Trump caused uproar by revealing he was canceling secret talks

with Afghanistan’s Taliban, stunned Washington.

Bolton is a veteran and controversial figure closely linked to the invasion of Iraq and other

aggressive US foreign policy decisions. He had been seen as one of the main driving forces in

the White House’s muscular approach to Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and elsewhere.

Famous for his large moustache and ever-present yellow legal pad, the hardline former US

ambassador to the United Nations had pushed back against Trump’s dramatic, though so far

stumbling, attempts to negotiate with the Taliban and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

According to US media reports Trump’s extraordinary but failed bid to fly Taliban leaders

into the presidential retreat at Camp David last weekend sparked a major, final row.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cautioned that Bolton’s exit should not be interpreted as

heralding strategy changes.

“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,” Pompeo told


MORE/AU/07:30 hrs




Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin underlined that Trump and top aides remain “completely

aligned” on Washington’s crippling sanctions against Iran, known as the maximum pressure


But when asked if Trump was still open to meeting his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani at

the United Nations General Assembly this month — an event that would be as ground breaking as

his proposed Taliban talks — Pompeo said “sure.”

– Fired or resigned? –

As so often in the Trump presidency, the handling of the abrupt reshuffle appeared chaotic.

Bolton joins a stack of senior officials to have come and gone during the Republican

businessman’s tumultuous first term in office.

Since entering the White House in January 2017, Trump has had two secretaries of defense, as

well as two acting secretaries, two secretaries of state, two CIA directors and a half dozen

communications directors.

Trump, who has a habit of announcing major domestic and international news on his personal

Twitter account, revealed the latest sacking at around midday. He said that he’d informed

Bolton of his decision Monday night.

The White House press office, however, seemed unaware. It sent out a message announcing that

Bolton would shortly be giving a press conference on terrorism issues alongside Pompeo.

Bolton disputed Trump’s version of events, saying that the president had not fired him in

person, as he claimed, late Monday.

“I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow,'”

Bolton tweeted.

A Fox News television reporter said Bolton texted him to say: “Let’s be clear, I resigned.”

Mnuchin, one of the Trump administration’s most senior figures, called a reporter’s question

about whether the national security team was in chaos “ridiculous.”

– Anti-war camp boost? –

Trump came into office promising to extricate the United States from military entanglements.

Bolton was often seen as offering a hawkish counterbalance, which Trump would then take into


“He has strong views on things but that’s okay. I actually temper John, which is pretty

amazing,” Trump said in May.

Rob Malley, president of the International Crisis Group consultancy, said Bolton’s departure

could realign White House policy on Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela.

Trump “has had two voices whispering in his ears: the one counseling diplomacy and warning

against conflict, the other recommending belligerence,” he said.

“With Bolton gone, the second voice undeniably has lost its loudest proponent.”

Prominent Republican Senator Rand Paul agreed, tweeting: “The President has great instincts

on foreign policy and ending our endless wars. He should be served by those who share those


Democratic Senator Jack Reed said that “Bolton was wrong for this job,” but added that

removing him “isn’t going to fix the failures plaguing this administration’s dysfunctional

foreign policy.”

Reeed described the White House as being “in constant turmoil.”

Pompeo said he did not want to discuss palace intrigue in the Trump administration.

However, he admitted what many had been saying for months: “There were many times Ambassador

Bolton and I disagreed, that’s to be sure.”

“Bolton is a hyper-hawk. He was influential, and his removal will at least temper some

administration policies,” the Eurasia Group consultancy said.

BSS/AFP/AU/07:35 hrs