Updated Sep 10, 2019

Trump ousts John Bolton as national security adviser

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Tuesday that he has asked national security adviser John Bolton to resign.

"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."

What they're saying: Bolton tweeted that he offered Trump his resignation on Monday night, and that the president said they would discuss tomorrow. If Trump did not notify Bolton of his decision, it would mark yet another instance of a high-ranking administration official being fired via tweet.

Why it matters: Bolton was one of Trump's most hawkish foreign policy advisers and a key player in the administration's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran. Bolton also had hardline views on U.S. policy toward Venezuela and North Korea, with critics often complaining to Trump that Bolton would drag him into an unwanted war.

Between the lines: 7 sources who have discussed Bolton with Trump told Axios' Jonathan Swan in July that the president says having Bolton on his team improves his bargaining position and gives him a psychological advantage over foes like Iran and North Korea.

  • However, the New York Times reports that tension between the 2 men — which has been present throughout Bolton tenure — reached new heights after Trump called off a planned airstrike against Iran and met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the Demilitarized Zone.
  • Bolton has called for bombing Iran in the past and has publicly condemned North Korea's recent missile tests, which Trump has brushed off as insignificant.
  • Bolton has also been an ardent opponent of the U.S. negotiating a peace agreement with the Taliban, arguing that Trump could still fulfill his campaign promise of withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan without a deal, per the Times. He was also, unsurprisingly, opposed to Trump's decision to invite the Taliban to Camp David.

What's next: Trump said he'll name a new national security adviser next week. He'll become the first president to have 4 national security advisers in his first term, per CNBC's Kayla Tausche.

Go deeper: A look at Trump's relationship with Bolton in better times

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Trump rips into John Bolton, denies he resigned

Bolton with his bag packed, on a trip to Nashville last May. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump addressed the reasons behind John Bolton's removal as national security adviser on Wednesday, telling reporters that Bolton "made some very big mistakes" and was "not getting along with people in the administration."

The backdrop: The tumultuous working relationship between Trump and his ultra-hawkish adviser ended suddenly on Tuesday. Trump tweeted that he'd fired Bolton, who then claimed to have resigned. Trump insisted that it was his decision to terminate Bolton, but said his former top aide "can do whatever he can do to spin it his way."

Go deeperArrowSep 11, 2019

Bolton's exit could reconfigure Trump's foreign policy process

Former national security adviser John Bolton. Photo: STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The departure of John Bolton, President Trump's third national security adviser, injects still more volatility into U.S. foreign policy, and the choice of his successor has profound implications for U.S. national security interests.

The big picture: Bolton successfully influenced U.S. withdrawals from the Iran nuclear deal, arms control treaties and international agreements, while chipping away at American commitments to multilateralism. But he had become marginalized in the White House as his hawkish approach increasingly clashed with Trump's deal-making instincts.

Go deeperArrowSep 11, 2019

Bolton's chaotic White House departure

President Donald Trump and former National Security Advisor John Bolton. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The last time National Security Adviser John Bolton spoke with President Donald Trump was Monday afternoon around 2 p.m. in the Oval Office — offering to resign — about 22 hours before the president's Tuesday tweet suggesting that he had fired Bolton, according to a person familiar with the situation. 

Why it matters: The timeline contradicts the president's account and speaks volumes about how Trump runs his administration.

Go deeperArrowSep 11, 2019