President Trump announced today that he has fired his national security adviser, John Bolton, saying he ‘disagreed strongly’ with him.
But Bolton immediately contradicted him, insisting he had tried to quit first.
‘I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,’ the president said in a tweet two minutes before midday, and an hour and a half before Bolton was scheduled to participate in a briefing to reporters 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.
He said he would name a new national security adviser next week.
In his own tweet sent a few minutes later, apparently from somewhere on the White House’s own computer network, Bolton said that he had tried to resign last night and that the president blew him off.
Bolton tweeted: ‘I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, “Let’s talk about it tomorrow”.’
He sent a text message to Fox News Channel host Brian Kilmeade, reading: ‘I resigned.’
Kilmeade read it on the air.
Bolton’s departure had been rumored on and off for months, and Trump himself had joked about it earlier this year, saying he appreciated hearing Bolton’s views even though he often disagreed with them.
Ironically, the firing came on the heels of what was perceived as a Bolton victory against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, his most formidable adversary inside the administration — the rejection of a peace deal in Afghanistan with the Taliban negotiated by Pompeo’s State Department.
Bolton had argued against the U.S.-Taliban negotiations for months, saying that the Taliban could not be trusted and that Trump could achieve his chief aim in Afghanistan — the withdrawal of U.S. troops — without any agreement with the militants.
Trump announced late Saturday that he was canceling a previously secret meeting with the Taliban and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to finalize the deal. On Monday, he said that the deal, and the negotiations, were “dead.”
Bolton recently said he did not want to appear on television to defend some of the administration’s positions, particularly on Afghanistan and Russia, according to administration officials, who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations.
Bolton irritated others by regularly asking for a large entourage to travel, which many others were frustrated by, the officials said.
Bolton and Trump had been at odds on issues of substance and style.
Bolton did not like Trump’s repeated meetings with Kim Jong Un, administration officials said, and he had argued against directly meeting with Iranians officials. He also did not like the president’s repeated insistence that Russia rejoin the Group of Seven nations.
Trump regularly mocked Bolton as a warmonger, sometimes even ticking off countries and joking that Bolton would want to invade them, current and former senior administration officials said.
Bolton was also in periodic clashes with acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
Bolton, 70, entered the administration in April 2018 after Trump dispensed with his second national security adviser, three-star Army general H.R. McMaster.
He had been a prominent Fox News contributor with hawkish views in particular on the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal.
Trump sometimes joked about Bolton’s image as a warmonger, reportedly saying in one Oval Office meeting that ‘John has never seen a war he doesn’t like.’
But in recent months there had been whispers that Trump was losing patience with him.
Bolton was preceded by Michael Flynn and H.R. McMaster.
Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, resigned in February 2017 over revelations about his questionable contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States and his misleading statements about the matter to senior Trump administration officials.
McMaster, an Army lieutenant general at the time of his hiring by Trump, was forced out in March 2018 after enduring the ire of conservatives for months and disagreeing with Trump on some key foreign policy strategies.