Trump ousts Bolton, dissenter on pol­icy

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Zeke Miller and Deb Riech­mann

WASH­ING­TON» Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Tues­day abruptly forced out John Bolton, his hawkish na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser with whom he had strong dis­agree­ments on Iran, Afghanista­n and a cas­cade of other global chal­lenges.

The sud­den shake-up marked the lat­est de­par­ture of a prom­i­nent voice of dis­sent from the pres­i­dent’s in­ner cir­cle, as Trump has grown less ac­cept­ing of ad­vice con­trary to his in­stincts. It also comes at a trying mo­ment for Trump on the world stage, weeks be­fore the United Na­tions Gen­eral As­sem­bly and as the pres­i­dent faces press­ing de­ci­sions on dif­fi­cult for­eign pol­icy is­sues.

Ten­sion be­tween Bolton, Trump’s third na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, and other of­fi­cials has flared in re­cent months over in­flu­ence in the pres­i­dent’s or­bit and how to man­age his de­sire to ne­go­ti­ate with some of the world’s most un­sa­vory ac­tors.

Since join­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion in the spring of last year,

Bolton has es­poused skep­ti­cism about the pres­i­dent’s whirl­wind rap­proche­ment with North Korea, and re­cently has be­come a vo­cal in­ter­nal critic of po­ten­tial talks be­tween Trump and lead­ers of Iran and Afghanista­n’s Tal­iban.

Bolton also broke with Trump with his vo­cal con­dem­na­tion of Rus­sia’s global ag­gres­sions, and last year he mas­ter­minded a quiet cam­paign in­side the ad­min­is­tra­tion and with al­lies abroad to per­suade Trump to keep U.S. forces in Syria to counter the rem­nants of the Is­lamic State and Ira­nian in­flu­ence in the re­gion. Bolton’s ma­neu­ver­ing at the time con­trasted with for­mer De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis’ de­ci­sion to in­stead re­sign over Trump’s De­cem­ber with­drawal an­nounce­ment, which has been ef­fec­tively re­versed.

On Twit­ter on Tues­day, Trump and Bolton of­fered op­pos­ing ac­counts on the ad­viser’s less-than-friendly de­par­ture, fi­nal shots for what had been a frac­tious re­la­tion­ship al­most from the start.

Trump tweeted that he told Bolton on Mon­day night his ser­vices were no longer needed at the White House and Bolton sub­mit­ted his res­ig­na­tion Tues­day morn­ing. Bolton re­sponded in a tweet of his own that he of­fered to re­sign Mon­day “and Pres­i­dent Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it to­mor­row.’ ”

Trump ex­plained that he had “dis­agreed strongly” with many of Bolton’s sug­ges­tions as na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, “as did oth­ers in the ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

Bolton’s let­ter of res­ig­na­tion, dated Tues­day, was only two sen­tences long. He wrote: “Dear Mr. Pres­i­dent, I hereby re­sign, ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately, as as­sis­tant to the pres­i­dent for na­tional se­cu­rity af­fairs. Thank you for hav­ing af­forded me this op­por­tu­nity to serve our coun­try.” He signed the let­ter “Sin­cerely, John R. Bolton.”

South Carolina Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, who had been trav­el­ing with Trump on Mon­day, said re­ports of Bolton’s op­po­si­tion to a now-scrapped week­end meet­ing with the Tal­iban at Camp David were a “bridge too far” for Trump.

And one Re­pub­li­can fa­mil­iar with the dis­agree­ments be­tween Trump and Bolton said the ad­viser’s op­po­si­tion to a pos­si­ble meet­ing be­tween Trump and Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani was a pre­cip­i­tat­ing fac­tor. French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron has been trying to bro­ker such a meet­ing, pos­si­bly on the side­lines of the up­com­ing U.N. Gen­eral As­sem­bly, in hopes of sal­vaging the in­ter­na­tional Iran nu­clear deal from which Trump with­drew.

“There were many times that Am­bas­sador Bolton and I dis­agreed. That’s to be sure,” Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo said Tues­day.

He added that Trump has been clear that he is will­ing to meet with Rouhani “with no pre­con­di­tions.”

The Ira­nian gov­ern­ment hailed Bolton’s de­par­ture, and spokesman Ali Ra­biei said it might pave the way for warmer re­la­tions.

“By dis­missal of the biggest sup­porter of war and eco­nomic ter­ror­ism, the White House will face less bar­rier to un­der­stand re­al­i­ties of Iran,” he said in a tweet. Tehran calls the U.S. sanc­tions on Iran “eco­nomic ter­ror­ism.”

Pom­peo said: “I don’t think any leader around the world should make any as­sump­tion that be­cause some one of us de­parts that Pres­i­dent Trump’s for­eign pol­icy will change in a ma­te­rial way.”

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