Donald Trump has said he fired John Bolton, writing in a tweet he “disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions” and adding he would announce a replacement for his hawkish national security adviser next week.
“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,” the president wrote. “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.”
But Mr Bolton immediately tweeted a statement of his own, saying: “I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow’.”
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Mr Bolton also reportedly told CNN’s Robert Costa shortly after his dismissal: “Let’s be clear, I resigned, having offered to do so last night.”
The reason for Mr Bolton’s departure was not immediately clear, although it has been suggested that he disagreed with the president’s aborted plan to hold peace talks with the Taliban at Camp David this week, days before the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Mr Bolton was also an outspoken advocate of regime change in Iran. Although Mr Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the nuclear deal that his predecessor Barack Obama signed with Tehran, he is known to oppose military action in the Middle East.
The confusion over the circumstances of his exit from the administration was emphasised by the abruptness of the announcement. It came shortly before Mr Bolton was set to appear for a scheduled press conference alongside secretary of state Mike Pompeo and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin.
At the press conference, both men said they were not surprised by the dismissal and also said they had their own disagreements with the former national security adviser. Mr Trump was “well within his rights” to remove Mr Bolton from his team, Mr Pompeo added.
White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley told reporters that Mr Bolton’s “priorities and policies just don’t line up with the president”, adding: “There is no one issue here … they just didn’t align on many issues.”
Mr Bolton’s former deputy, Charles Kupperman, will take his role in an acting capacity.
Mr Trump announced he was nominating Mr Bolton to serve as his third national security adviser in March last year after the removal of General HR McMaster, who had succeeded Michael Flynn.
A well-known foreign policy hawk, Mr Bolton has served in several presidential administrations and has consistently been a proponent for regime change in countries like Syria and Iran.
His dismissal came as a surprise to many on Capitol Hill, and an apparent relief to those who oppose the administration’s hardline views on national security policy when it comes to the Middle East and other regions of the world.
Matt Duss, foreign policy adviser to senator Bernie Sanders told The Independent: “The farther away John Bolton is from power, the safer our country is.”
Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar tweeted: “John Bolton has been one of the leading proponents of making the world a more dangerous place. Good riddance.”
With Mr Bolton’s departure, the president’s national security team is reportedly currently missing a secretary and deputy secretary of homeland security, a director and deputy director of national intelligence, a national security adviser and secretaries for multiple military branches.
The ex-national security adviser seemingly began texting television news hosts immediately after Mr Trump posted his tweets. On Fox News, Brian Kilmeade said: “John Bolton just texted me, just now, he’s watching. He said, ‘let’s be clear, I resigned.’”