Bolton Out,McMaster In as Security Adv.03/23 06:13
Charging ahead with the dramatic remaking of his White House, President
Donald Trump said he would replace national security adviser H.R. McMaster with
the former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, a foreign policy hawk entering an
administration facing key decisions on Iran and North Korea.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Charging ahead with the dramatic remaking of his White
House, President Donald Trump said he would replace national security adviser
H.R. McMaster with the former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, a foreign policy
hawk entering an administration facing key decisions on Iran and North Korea.
After weeks of speculation about McMaster's future, Trump and the respected
three-star general put a positive face on the Thursday departure, making no
reference to the growing public friction between them. Trump tweeted that
McMaster had done "an outstanding job & will always remain my friend." He said
Bolton will take over April 9 as his third national security adviser in just
over a year.
The national security shakeup comes as the president is increasingly
shedding advisers who once eased the Republican establishment's concerns about
the foreign policy and political novice in the White House. McMaster is the
sixth close adviser or aide to announce a departure in a turbulent six weeks,
joining ally Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was unceremoniously fired
The White House has said the president is seeking to put new foreign policy
leaders in place ahead of a not-yet-scheduled meeting with North Korean leader
Kim Jung Un. Bolton is likely to add a hard-line influence on those talks, as
well as deliberations over whether to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.
The White House said McMaster's exit had been under discussion for some time
and stressed it was not due to any one incident, including this week's stunning
leak about Trump's recent phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
McMaster had briefed Trump before the Putin call --- and his team drafted
all-caps instructions telling Trump not to congratulate the Russian leader on
his re-election victory. Trump did it anyway.
An internal investigation into the leak is underway, said a White House
official who --- like others interviewed about the announcement and the White
House shakeup --- demanded anonymity to discuss internal matters.
In a statement released by the White House, McMaster said he would be
requesting retirement from the U.S. Army effective this summer, adding that
afterward he "will leave public service."
McMaster had told confidants he would leave the post if at any point he lost
credibility on the international stage, according to three White House
officials. The feverish speculation about an impending exit sped up the
decision for him to depart, the officials said, in part because McMaster
believed foreign partners were beginning to doubt his influence.
Chief of staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had been pushing
Trump to get rid of McMaster and had been escalating their campaign in recent
weeks. It had appeared McMaster's departure was imminent last week --- but
White House officials insisted the speculation was false.
"Just spoke to @POTUS and Gen. H.R. McMaster --- contrary to reports they
have a good working relationship and there are no changes at the NSC," White
House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted late last Thursday night.
McMaster never developed a personal rapport with Trump, who chafed at his
long-winded briefing style, according to a White House official and a person
close to the president. His influence in high-level decision-making had waned
in recent months, as Trump has increasingly relied on the direct counsel of
Kelly and Mattis.
Yet officials said the president still has genuine respect for McMaster. He
had been under consideration for a fourth star, and White House officials hoped
it would provide a graceful exit from the West Wing for the longtime soldier.
No suitable postings had been identified, leaving McMaster --- long an
iconoclast among the top brass --- with no choice but retirement.
Bolton, probably the most divisive foreign policy expert ever to serve as
U.N. ambassador, has been a force in Republican foreign policy circles for
decades. He served in the Republican administrations of Ronald Reagan, George
H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, and as a Bush lawyer during the 2000 Florida
A strong supporter of the Iraq war and an advocate for aggressive use of
American power, Bolton was unable to win Senate confirmation after his
nomination to the U.N. post alienated many Democrats and even some Republicans.
He resigned after serving 17 months as a Bush "recess appointment," which
allowed him to hold the job on a temporary basis without Senate confirmation.
The role of national security adviser does not require Senate confirmation.
Bolton met with Trump and Kelly in early March to discuss North Korea and
Iran. He was spotted entering the West Wing earlier Thursday.
Tension between Trump and McMaster had grown increasingly public. Last
month, Trump took issue with McMaster's characterization of Russian meddling in
the 2016 election after the national security adviser told the Munich Security
Summit that interference was beyond dispute.
"General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were
not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between
Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems," Trump tweeted Feb. 17, alluding to
frequent GOP allegations of impropriety by Democrats and Hillary Clinton.
Tillerson's exit also forecast trouble for McMaster, who had aligned himself
with the embattled secretary of state in seeking to soften some of Trump's most
dramatic foreign policy impulses.
McMaster told The New York Times last year that Trump's unorthodox approach
"has moved a lot of us out of our comfort zone, me included."
The military strategist, who joined the administration in February 2017, has
struggled to navigate a tumultuous White House. Last summer, he was the target
of a far-right attack campaign, as conservative groups and a website tied to
former Trump adviser Steve Bannon targeted him as insufficiently supportive of
Israel and not tough enough on Iran.
McMaster was brought in after Trump's first national security adviser,
Michael Flynn, was dismissed after less than a month in office. White House
officials said he was ousted because he did not tell top advisers, including
Vice President Mike Pence, about the full extent of his contacts with Russian