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Sarah Sanders and John Bolton at the White House in 2018. Photo: Mike Theiler/Pool/Getty Images

One former top West Wing official tells Axios that national security adviser John Bolton was unpopular even before the leaks from his tell-all, "The Room Where It Happened," which is out Tuesday.

Axios has a first look for you at a fiery passage from a book that's coming this fall from former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, "Speaking for Myself." She writes that, during President Trump's state visit to London last year, "Bolton was a classic case of a senior White House official drunk on power, who had forgotten that nobody elected him to anything."

Sanders tells me that Bolton regularly traveled separately on foreign trips and, in London, disregarded a request to wait so the rest of the staff wouldn’t get stuck in traffic:

  • "Bolton apparently felt too important to travel with the rest of us," Sanders writes. "As we were ready to depart for the Winfield House," the U.S. ambassador's residence in London, "we loaded onto a small black bus."
  • "We waited and watched as Bolton sped by and left us in the dust. The discussion on the bus quickly moved ... to how arrogant and selfish Bolton could be, not just in this moment but on a regular basis."
  • "If anyone on the team should have merited a motorcade it was [Treasury Secretary] Mnuchin, but he was a team player and didn’t seem to mind traveling with the rest of us."

"Often Bolton acted like he was the president, pushing an agenda contrary to President Trump's."

  • "When we finally arrived at the Winfield House, [chief of staff] Mick Mulvaney, typically laid-back and not one to get caught up in titles or seniority, confronted Bolton and unleashed a full Irish explosion on him."

"Let’s face it, John," Mulvaney said, according to Sanders. "You’re a f—— self-righteous, self-centered son of a b——!'"

  • "That epithet ... was the culmination of months of Bolton thinking he was more important and could play by a different set of rules than the rest of the team. ... Bolton backed down and stormed off."

The response ... Sarah Tinsley, longtime senior adviser to Bolton, told Axios:

All logistical arrangements for travel of this sort were handled by the Secret Service, without any input from Ambassador Bolton. It is impossible to believe that his assigned Secret Service agents acted other than in a completely professional manner, fully coordinated with the Secret Service details assigned to Messrs. Mnuchin and Mulvaney.
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Go deeper

Updated Aug 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump's former Homeland Security chief of staff endorses Joe Biden

Miles Taylor, the former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff under President Trump, endorsed Joe Biden for president in a video funded by Republican Voters Against Trump.

Why it matters: Taylor's blistering criticism of Trump adds to the chorus of former top administration officials who have spoken out against the president after leaving office — most notably former national security adviser John Bolton and former Defense Secretary James Mattis.

11 mins ago - World

U.N. envoy resumes push for cease fire in Gaza

Tor Wennesland. Photo by KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP via Getty Images

Tor Wennesland, U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process , has been holding extensive talks with both Israel and Hamas over the past 24 hours in an effort to restore peace, a diplomatic source tells Axios.

Driving the news: The source said Wennesland spoke on Sunday to Israel’s National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and other senior Israeli security officials as well as Hamas officials and Egyptian intelligence officials.

3 hours ago - Health

CDC director says politics didn't play a role in abrupt mask policy shift

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky told Fox News Sunday that political pressure had nothing to do with the agency's sudden announcement that fully vaccinated Americans can go without masks in most indoor settings.

Why it matters: Emerging evidence shows vaccinated people are less likely to transmit the virus, as COVID-19 cases and deaths drop. But the responsibility to uphold the abrupt policy change falls to individuals and businesses.