This afternoon President Donald Trump announced the dismissal of his third national security advisor, former ambassador John Bolton.
“I informed John Bolton 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,” Trump tweeted.
Bolton almost immediately challenged this version of events. “I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow,’” the now former advisor tweeted. Bolton was simultaneously contacting multiple reporters to contradict the narrative that he was fired instead of leaving of his own accord.
The firing comes hours before what was meant to be a joint press conference including Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin to designate Al Qaeda’s branch in Syria as a terrorist organization.
Nicholas Heras, who frequently engaged with U.S. officials who work on counterterrorism policy, said that the topic itself had little to do with Bolton’s firing. “The U.S. has been considering this move for awhile,” the Center for a New American Security fellow told the National Interest.
When asked about Bolton’s departure during the now-truncated press conference, both cabinet officials smiled. “The president’s entitled to the staff he wants,” Pompeo said, he was “right to do so.” Mnuchin added, “The president’s view of the Iraq War and Ambassador Bolton’s were very different.” Bolton had a testy working relationship with both during his seventeen-month tenure.