U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton just became the latest senior White House official to be shown the door, with President Donald Trump announcing his departure on Twitter Tuesday.
“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,” Trump tweeted.
“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. I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week.”
Bolton, however, had a decidedly different version of events, and offered it up on Twitter shortly after Trump’s announcement.
“I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let's talk about it tomorrow’,” he tweeted.
Bolton then took his fight with Trump to Fox News:
The Twitter tiff is fitting for the 70-year-old Bolton, who's famously unafraid of conflict. He’s best known as a foreign policy hawk who has advocated for regime change in Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Cuba, and he's been a strident opponent of the nuclear deal with Tehran.
Most recently, he had been opposed to the administration’s efforts to reach a peace deal with the Taliban and bring an end to the U.S.’ longest war. Bolton had been against the planned Camp David peace talks with the Taliban, which Trump called off Monday following a Taliban car bombing that killed a U.S. soldier and 11 others.
Bolton’s hawkish approach to foreign policy — favoring a muscular, confrontational U.S. military presence around the world — had set him at odds with an administration that was pursuing attempts to simultaneously bring an end to longstanding foreign policy disputes. As well as ending the war in Afghanistan, the White House has been attempting to persuade North Korea and Iran to abandon their nuclear endeavors, holding talks with Pyongyang and floating the possibility of talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday.
According to White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham, it wasn’t Trump’s invitation to the Taliban for peace talks that ended the relationship with Bolton. “No — it was many, many issues,” she told CNBC.
Bolton had been in the role just 17 months, taking over in April 2018 from previous Trump appointee H.R. McMaster. McMaster had in turn replaced Trump’s original pick, Michael Flynn, who was dismissed after just 24 days over his communications with the Russian ambassador.
Bolton’s sudden departure apparently came as a surprise to everyone: it was announced only 90 minutes before Bolton was scheduled to appear alongside Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a press briefing.
Charles Kupperman, the man standing in for Bolton following his sacking isn’t without his own controversies. Civil rights groups criticized Kupperman's appointment as deputy National Security Advisor in January, citing his longstanding ties to a far-right D.C. think tank, the Center for Security Policy.
The Southern Poverty Law Center designates the think tank as an anti-Muslim hate group, which has pushed conspiracy theories that Muslims are infiltrating the U.S. government. Kupperman, who White House officials confirmed Tuesday was the new acting National Security Advisor, served on its board of directors from 2001 to 2010
Cover: U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks to the media after his meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, in Minsk, Belarus. Viktor Tolochko / Sputnik via AP