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John Bolton Resigns: Trump Asks National Security Adviser to Resign



"I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week," Trump wrote.

The tweet came just one hour after the White House press office said Bolton was scheduled to appear at a Tuesday press briefing alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Asked during the briefing whether he and Mnuchin were surprised that Bolton was fired, given that he was supposed to appear alongside them, Pompeo said, "I 'm never surprised. "

Bolton tweeted minutes after Trump's announcement," I offered to resign last night and President Trump said,' Let's talk about it tomorrow. '"

 Bolton-Pompeo relationship hits new low as foreign policy tests mount

Bolton reiterated the point that he was offered to resign on Fox News Tuesday.

Trump has plowed through an unprecedented number of national security professionals while multiple geopolitical crises have played out.

The President has three national security advisers – Bolton, Michael Flynn and H.R. McMaster. He has summarily fired a secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, by tweeting after undercutting the former ExxonMobil CEO for months.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis resigned, reportedly in frustration over Trump's decision to pull out of Syria.

has also churned through two Homeland Security secretaries, John Kelly and Kirstjen Nielsen, and National Security Agency director, Mike Rogers. He's lost a deputy national security adviser, K.T. McFarland and UN ambassador Nikki Haley. National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and his deputy, Sue Gordon, left their posts last month.

Bolton's departure comes as tensions with Iran are escalating in the Persian Gulf, North Korea continues to develop its weapons capabilities, arms control experts are warning

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters that Charles Kupperman is the acting national security adviser.

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"John Bolton's priorities and policies just do not line up with the President's and any sitting the president has the right to put someone in a position that can carry out his agenda. That became no longer tenable with the president made a change, "Gidley told reporters.

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Yet Bolton's ouster was so sudden that the now-former National Security Adviser even had a meeting of the top administration officials, known as a principals committee meeting, Tuesday morning prior to Trump's tweet, and a source familiar told CNN.

The source said the meeting went as planned and there was no indication that Bolton's firing was imminent.

Writing on the wall

The campaign by Trump allies to push Bolton out of administration has ramped up in recent weeks, multiple sources told CNN.

The President received multiple phone calls and appeals to replace Bolton with someone who agreed with him more and was willing to follow through with his decisions when he did not. This was something Trump heard since he hired Bolton – but people noticed the President's frustration with him growing in recent weeks as they upped the pressure.

A senior administration official echoed that sentiment, telling CNN that Trump has been getting more and more irritated with Bolton over the past few months for his statements on Iran, Venezuela and now Afghanistan.

Trump no longer believed Bolton could advocate for the President's agenda, and instead felt he was harming his credibility, the official said.

Ultimately, a disagreement between Trump and Bolton over the President's decision to host Taliban leaders at Camp David appeared to be the last straw.

Trump was irked by reports that he had faced an internal pushback from Bolton over his decision, multiple people familiar with his frustration say. The President announced plans for the meeting were canceled on Saturday.

 Why Trump can't fill the gaping holes in his government

Bolton and Trump got into a heated argument Monday night over the President's plan to host Taliban leaders at Camp David and Bolton did not back down, two people familiar with what happened said.

One of the factors that prompted Trump to fire Bolton was concern inside the White House that Bolton's aides were making it sound as though Vice President Mike Pence had opposed the Taliban meeting at Camp David, according to two senior administration officials. One official pointed to Pence's tweet saying he would have supported such a move.

CNN reported last week that tensions between top figures on Trump's national security team had devolved into all-out hostility, creating a deep disconnect between staffers at the National Security Council, led by Bolton, and the rest of the administration, six people familiar with the matter said.

Pompeo acknowledged Tuesday that he disagreed with Bolton "many times."

"That's for sure," he said, but added disagrees with others as well.

Bolton was initially brought into administration last year to replace HR McMaster partly due to his hawkish position on Iran – supporting Trump's exit from Iran's nuclear deal – but he soon began to clash with the President's vision for diplomacy in North Korea and most recently in Afghanistan.

 Trump overruled advisers, VP on Taliban Camp David meeting

Trump also felt like Bolton was n't a forceful enough advocate for him in the media – and that when he did make appearances, he wasn't convincing enough, since he was evident he didn't believe in some of Trump's foreign policy goals, and senior administration official said.

Some West Wing officials in recent weeks began to get the sense Bolton's days were numbered based on his clashes with other officials in the administration and differing views on key issues.

Those involved in national security discussions took notice that Bolton was "going through a tough time" as one source put it. Aides were waiting to see if he could weather the storm as he had in the past which clearly did not happen this time around.

Officials learned of Trump firing from Trump

A senior administration official told CNN that White House and national security officials learned about Bolton's Trump firing. The official described aides as frantically trying to figure things out following the tweet.

Specifically, officials at the National Security Council are now wondering about the future of their organization after Bolton's abrupt firing.

When he arrived in March 2018, Bolton brought with him several officials to fill key roles – and the fate of those officials isn't clear.

As staffers detailed to the NSC phased out, Bolton worked to replace them with people he'd worked with previously and he considered loyal to him. His goal was to have senior leaders in a place that was "his people" as the 2020 election season began.

If those officials depart the mass, the NSC will be majorly depleted, so it's not expected they will all follow Bolton out the

But there is uncertainty today about what happens next.

Mixed reaction

Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney called his departure a "huge loss" for the Trump administration and said he was "very unhappy" to learn Bolton was leaving.

"The loss of John Bolton as a senior foreign policy leader is an extraordinary loss for our nation and for the White House, "Romney told reporters, adding that he was an important voice in the room because he would take a different view.

But fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul praised John Bolton's firing, predicting that his removal made the threat of war with Iran or other adversaries less likely.

"I think the President deserves to have someone around him who agrees with his policy. I think the the threat of war worldwide goes down exponentially with John Bolton out of the White House, "Paul told reporters.

 Judge sets Dec. 18 sentencing date for Michael Flynn even as his lawyers cry foul

"I think his advocacy for regime change around the world is a naive world view. will be a much better place with new advisors to the president and hopefully someone who's actually listening to what the president says over and over again, that he wants to bring america's longest war to a close, "he said.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Tuesday that Bolton served the country well but the President "deserves a national security adviser he has confidence in."

Graham did not explicitly say he had a heads up but also suggested the Taliban meeting contributed to his dismissal .

"I think Bolton served the country well. He gave the president his honest opinion and it's time for him to move on," Graham said.

Asked if he had a heads up Bolton would be fired, Graham said : "I know there were some concerns about the whole Taliban meeting, but I didn't know for sure."

Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also weighed in on Bolton's departure Tuesday in a statement.

"This revolving door of American leadership is devastating to our nation's security as our allies now turn to more stable nations – like China and Russia – as our foreign policy infrastructure falls apart," Murphy said.

"John Bolton was the wrong choice and the silver lining to this instability is that there will be fewer people whispering war chants in the president's ear. But no one of any quality is going to take a job in the nation's national security cabinet so long as everyone's head is permanently hovering slightly above the chopping block, "he added.

CNN's Pamela Brown, Jim Acosta, Kylie Atwood, Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju contributed reporting


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