The best-laid plans of mice and men...
When President Trump tweeted Thursday evening that he was firing National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and replacing him with John Bolton, effective April 9, Bolton told Fox News a few minutes later that he'd been surprised by Trump's offer, though they had apparently discussed the move for weeks. But Trump's decision to fire McMaster so abruptly also "surprised senior White House aides who had been preparing a single statement announcing the departure of multiple top Trump officials," Politico reports, citing two senior administration officials.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who supported ousting McMaster, had been planning to announce the firing of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, and maybe several senior White House aides at the same time as they announced McMaster's departure, Politico says. "It's unclear which other West Wing officials were possibly set to depart with McMaster, but the two senior administration officials said they believed it would be easier to manage the optics if multiple firings were made public in a single statement instead of drawn out."
Such an announcement wouldn't have been made for at least another week, until after inspector general reports on Carson and Shulkin were out. "Trump upends whatever he wants to upend," a White House official told Politico. Trump called McMaster Thursday afternoon to thank him and give him a heads-up about his ouster, not wanting to publicly humiliate him as he had outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, The Washington Post reports, but the mounting rumors of McMaster's firing had made it difficult for him to do his job. "Everyone in the White House knew that," a senior official told the Post. "It was the same as Rex. Everyone knew their days were numbered, so people didn't take them seriously."