Andrew Harnik/AP

Bolton Fired as National Security Adviser. Who's Next?

Trump's third NSA is let go after being sidelined at major international events.

President Trump announced the abrupt dismissal of his third national security advisor, John Bolton, the latest scalp in a presidency marked by the high-profile firings and resignations of most of its senior national security leaders.

“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,” Trump tweeted Tuesday afternoon, shortly before Bolton was scheduled to participate in a press briefing 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.”

Bolton, a veteran bureaucratic infighter from the George W. Bush administration, almost immediately disputed the circumstances of his dismissal on Twitter.

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

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said later in the afternoon that Charles Kupperman, the deputy national security adviser, would serve as acting national security adviser, NBC News' Peter Alexander reported.

Rumors that Bolton was on the way out have circulated in Washington for months. Although Bolton and Trump shared a disdain for multilateralism, the hawkish adviser often clashed with his boss’ noninterventionalist instincts. The president has publicly alluded to his differing opinions with Bolton, but has stopped short of expressing exasperation in public. He has reportedly joked behind-the-scenes about Bolton’s hawkishness that “John has never seen a war he doesn't like.”

Bolton has been publicly sidelined during a number of key foreign policy and national security initiatives, including peace negotiations with the Taliban that Trump called off on Saturday. Before that break, negotiators had reached a deal “in principle” that Bolton, who was opposed the deal, was reportedly allowed to view but not take home. In June, he was dispatched to Mongolia while Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, stepping foot into North Korean territory. 

As national security adviser, Bolton presided over a National Security Council process that critics derided as closed-loop and insular, preventing rather than facilitating cross-agency information sharing and decision making. 

He left a clear mark on Trump foreign policy, at least in the early days of his tenure. He spearheaded a hardline “maximum pressure” policy against Iran that began with the U.S. withdrawal from the so-called Iran nuclear deal in May 2018. He pushed the United States into recognizing an opposition lawmaker as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, and, in what Bolton may consider his most important achievement, saw the International Criminal Court decline to investigate war crimes in Afghanistan by the U.S. and its allies in the early days of the War on Terror. (Bolton has long loathed the ICC and called the victory his “second happiest day,” after his “happiest day” of “unsigning” the statute that created the organization in 2002.)

But over the summer, Bolton’s influence has appeared to wane — particularly in contrast to that of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, adept at staying on Trump’s good side. The president has reportedly been frustrated that Venezuela’s autocratic leader, Nicholas Maduro, did not step down as quickly as expected under pressure from the United States; and he was concerned that Bolton was leading him into a war with Iran. 

Trump has now dismissed or accepted the resignations of three national security advisors, including Michael Flynn and H.R. McMaster. The first three years of his presidency have also seen the departure of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan, FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 

Trump said that he will name a new national security advisor “next week.” (The president is known to publicly schedule personnel announcements only to allow the deadline to lapse.) 

“I thank John very much for his service,” he tweeted. 

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.