Thu, 19 Sep 2019

Pompeo: Bolton Ouster Will Not Change US Foreign Policy

Voice of America
11 Sep 2019, 06:35 GMT+10

VOA National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.

WHITE HOUSE - The firing of White House National Security Adviser John Bolton will not mean a change in President Donald Trump's foreign policy, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"I don't think any leader around the world should make any assumption that because one of us departs that President Trump's foreign policy will change in a material way," Pompeo said less than two hours after Trump announced on Twitter that he had ousted Bolton.

Pompeo appeared on the White House podium along with U.S. Treasury Steven Mnuchin to discuss an executive order strengthening sanctions to combat terrorism.

Bolton had been scheduled to join the briefing, as announced only hours earlier, indicating the hasty nature of his departure from the Trump administration.

"I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House," Trump said at noon on Tuesday 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."

He thanked Bolton for his service and said he would be naming a replacement next week.

In the meantime, Charlie Kupperman is the acting national security adviser, according to the White House.

Bolton, in a quick and immediate response to his ouster on Twitter said: "I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, 'Let's talk about it tomorrow.'"

"They just didn't align on many issues," White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters, denying there was one single issue that caused the break between Trump and Bolton.

"There were many times Ambassador Bolton and I disagreed," Pompeo acknowledged responding to reporters' questions.

"It would seem it's business as usual in this administration, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told VOA. "Of course, foreign nations watch the chaos - which the President relishes - with either glee or gloom, depending on how they feel about the U.S."

"All adversaries, but especially Iran, probably will view Bolton's departure as removing a major obstacle to the reaching of new agreements with the Trump administration," former senior CIA officer Paul Pillar told VOA. "There are plenty of other obstacles, of course, but Bolton was one of the biggest ones."

Bolton had reportedly been opposed to plans to invite Taliban members - as well as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani - to the presidential retreat of Camp David for talks aimed at solidifying a U.S.-Taliban peace deal.

Trump, after a recent Taliban attack that killed a U.S. soldier, decided to cancel the meeting.

"There's been some public discussions about Bolton being on the other side of meeting the Taliban. That probably was a bridge too far. I don't know what happened there," Senator Lindsey Graham, a confidante of the president and a member of the foreign relations committee, told reporters, noting the deterioration of the personal relationship between the Trump and the national security adviser.

There also have been indications that Bolton, a hardliner on security issues, also differed with the president on the approach to Iran and North Korea.

"I sincerely hope his leaving the White House does not mean that the deep-state forces at State and Treasury - who have been fighting tooth and nail to preserve the Obama Iran nuclear deal - have finally convinced the president to go soft on Iran," said Republican Ted Cruz, a member of the Senate's foreign relations committee, in a statement.

Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the foreign relations committee, told reporters Bolton's firing is emblematic of Trump's style.

"He wants people who basically are yes-men. I may not have agreed with Ambassador Bolton on a whole host of issues and his bellicose views, but the one thing about him is he obviously presented counterviews at times for his consideration. That's not something the president wants," said Menendez.

Bolton was chosen by Trump in March of 2018 to replace H.R. McMaster, a former Army lieutenant general, as national security adviser.

Trump's first choice for the position, Michael Flynn, also a retired Army lieutenant general, lasted less than a month in the job before being fired. He was subsequently convicted of lying to the FBI about December 2016 conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and he is awaiting sentencing.

Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was brought into this administration after a stint as a commentator on the Fox News Channel, which is generally supportive of President Trump.

Bolton, who previously had served in three previous Republican presidential administrations, also held roles in the Justice and State departments.

Trump had noted Bolton's reputation as a hawk, once saying in the Oval Office that "John has never seen a war he doesn't like."

Trump never appeared to warm to Bolton and had expressed reservations about him prior to hiring him, including making comments about Bolton's bushy mustache.

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