Why did Donald Trump fire John Bolton?

Row over Taliban meeting believed to be final straw in rocky relationship

Donald Trump with John Bolton, his national security adviser
US president is trying to block the publication of his former security adviser’s explosive book
(Image credit: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump has fired his national security adviser, John Bolton, saying he disagreed “strongly” with him.

The world learned of the departure through Trump’s favourite medium. “I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,” he wrote on Twitter.

“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. I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Adviser next week.”

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However, Bolton, insists he offered to leave his post voluntarily, tweeting minutes after Trump's announcement, “I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, “Let's talk about it tomorrow.’” As USA Today puts it, how the sacking happened is a case of “he said, Trump said”.

Bolton’s notably terse resignation letter read: “I hereby resign, effective immediately, as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. Thank you for affording me this opportunity to serve our country.”

Bolton, who was Trump's third national security adviser after Michael Flynn and HR McMaster, disagreed with the president on a number of foreign policy challenges, from Afghanistan to Iran. His hawkish approach was at odds with Trump’s preference for hard negotiation.

It is also believed that Bolton’s approach upset Trump. A White House official told CBS News: “Bolton has his priorities. He didn't ask the president ‘What are your priorities?’ They're Bolton's priorities.”

According to reports, the two men had a heated argument on Monday night over the Trump’s plan to host Taliban leaders at Camp David, with the hawkish Bolton refusing to back down. However, it is believed that this was merely the final straw after their relationship had already soured.

CNN says a campaign by Trump allies to push Bolton out of the administration had “ramped up” in recent weeks. Supporters had repeatedly appealed to the president to replace Bolton with someone who agreed with him more. Trump felt Bolton was harming his credibility.

The Times says that Bolton’s “long-established bellicose views were always at odds with Mr Trump’s fondness for personal summitry”. It adds that the president blamed the failure of talks with North Korea in February on Bolton’s “insistence on playing a tough hand”.

Perhaps the writing had been on the wall from the start. According to the New Yorker, an official who overheard Trump on the phone discussing Bolton’s appointment claims the president said: “He’s going to get us into a war.” The president is reported to have said in one Oval Office meeting that “John has never seen a war he doesn’t like”.

Certainly many will feel that the chances of a war involving the US are now lower. CNBC says “the odds of a military conflict with Iran are reduced” now that Bolton has left the building.

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