President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that John Bolton was no longer his national security adviser, ending a tenure marked by widening rifts between an unorthodox president seeking a foreign policy victory and an irascible foreign policy hawk who had been deeply skeptical of much of the president’s agenda.
Trump disclosed the departure in a Twitter message,. Potential candidates include at least two conservative foreign policy commentators who have appeared on Fox News, where Bolton’s fierce attacks on Democrats endeared him to Trump nearly two years ago.
The appeal didn’t last, however, as Bolton’s opposition to elements of Trump’s approach on North Korea, Iran and Afghanistan, among other issues, put him at odds with his boss and other advisers. Trump also largely blamed his third national security adviser for overselling the strength of Venezuela’s political opposition earlier this year.
“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,” Trump said on Twitter. “I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service.”
Bolton immediately disputed the president’s account.
“Let’s be clear, I resigned, having offered to do so last night,” Bolton said in a text to The Washington Post.
Bolton also responded to Trump on Twitter. “I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow,’” he wrote.
Trump is likely to consider Stephen Biegun, the lead envoy on North Korea, and Brian Hook, the administration’s point person on Iran, among possible replacements, current and former administration officials said.
Bolton and Trump had been at odds on issues of both 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 Iranian officials. He did not like the president’s repeated insistence that Russia rejoin the Group of Seven nations.
A former senior official said acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence concluded that Bolton had leaked internal deliberations surrounding a planned meeting at Camp David last weekend in which Trump would have met with Taliban representatives as a step to ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan. Trump canceled the secret meeting via Twitter on Saturday evening.
Bolton has insisted to colleagues and confidants that he had done no such thing.