WASHINGTON (ABC News) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday tweeted that he had fired National Security Adviser John Bolton amid reports of conflict among the president foreign policy advisers over Afghanistan and other matters.
“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. 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 Advisor next week,” Trump tweeted.
Within minutes, Bolton tweeted that he had offered to resign last night.
Bolton told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl that he was never asked to resign — that his departure was on his initiative, not the president’s.
“I offered to resign last night,” Bolton said.. “He never asked for me to resign directly or indirectly. I slept on it and resigned this morning.”
Bolton told Karl he resigned because an “accumulation of things” and it was “flatly wrong” to say the president wanted his resignation letter on his desk Tuesday morning.
The White House stood by the president’s tweet that he asked for Bolton’s resignation Monday night and that a brief resignation letter was delivered Tuesday morning.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told reporters outside her office in the West Wing that she was not aware of the president and Bolton talking Tuesday morning and said that Bolton was not at work at the White House Tuesday, ABC News’ Kyra Phillips reported.
Grisham said there was no final straw in Bolton’s departure but that he and the president had a number of broader policy disagreements. Asked if recent news leaks over the internal disagreements played a role in Bolton’s dismissal, she said they did not.
It was too soon to say who might replace Bolton in the role, Grisham said, adding that she would not get ahead of the president.
Bolton was scheduled to appear at a White House briefing early Tuesday afternoon with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,
At that briefing, Pompeo said, “The president is entitled to the staff that he wants,” adding, “he should have people he trusts and values.”
When the president makes a decision like this, he’s well within his rights to do so,” he said.
“There were many times Ambassador Bolton and I disagreed, for sure,” Pompeo said. Asked whether he was blindsided, Pompeo smiled and said, “I’m never surprised, and I don’t mean that on just this issue.”
Often at odds with the president, Bolton had a reputation as a foreign policy hawk, and in May Trump said he has at times had to temper him.
“John’s very good. He has strong views on things which is OK. I’m the one who tempers him, which is OK. I have John Bolton and I have people who are a little more dovish than him,” Trump said.
In June, Trump said, “John Bolton is doing a very good job, but he takes a — generally, a tough posture. But I have other people that don’t take that posture. But the only one that matters is me because I’ll listen to everybody….”
Back in January, the president addressed reports of conflict between Bolton and Pompeo.
“I have two great stars. And John Bolton is doing a great job, and Mike Pompeo is doing a great job. They’re very strong and they work hard. And, as you know, they’re doing things that are very — very good. We’re coming up with some very good results,” the president said.
Bolton was Trump’s third national security adviser, a role first briefly held by retired Lt. General Michael Flynn and then later by retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.
Reacting to Bolton’s departure on Capitol Hill, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speculated that Bolton’s opposition to the president meeting with the Taliban at Camp David this past weekend, as Trump said he had proposed until canceling the meeting, may have been a tipping point.
“I like John Bolton. I think he sees the world for what it is. I’ve always had a similar view of the threats that we face. But the personal relationship between the president and the national security adviser is important, I think the view that there’s some public discussions about Bolton being on the other side of meeting with the Taliban probably was a bridge too far,” Graham told ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce.
“I don’t know what happened there but the bottom line is I appreciate what John has done for the country for a long period of time and the president will now get a chance to pick a national security adviser he has more confidence in,” Graham said.
One of Bolton’s closest Republican friends in Congress, Sen. Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said: “I’m disappointed that that association has been dissolved.”
Other Republicans were glad to see him go. GOP Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was quick to tweet “I commend @realDonaldTrump for this necessary action. The President has great instincts on foreign policy and ending our endless wars. He should be served by those who share those views.”
Democrats, on the other hand, wanted more information about what led to this decision.
“Bolton was President Trump’s third national security adviser,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., told Bruce. “I think there’s a lot we need to know about what caused this abrupt firing by tweet of the president national security adviser, what the policy differences were, and what this means about stability, America’s place in the world, and the decision making team that surrounds our president.”
Coons went on to raise concerns about the implications of all this turnover.
“I think these abrupt changeovers in his leadership team, while they might make for great television, and they might work well on a TV show where your signature line is ‘You’re fired!,’ doesn’t make for predictable or steady management of the senior levels of the administration,” he said.