Few things in this life are guaranteed, except, as Benjamin Franklin once asserted, death and taxes. Perhaps rounding out the trifecta is this: If you work for the Trump administration, sooner or later, you're going to be out of a job.
That inevitability came true for John Bolton, the National Security Advisor, on Tuesday, September 10, when he was released of his duties by President Donald Trump. As is typical, the President announced the changing of the guards on Twitter, the preeminent news source for major political wheelings and dealings.
"I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House," Trump wrote, adding that he "disagreed strongly with many of [Bolton's] suggestions" regarding foreign policy.
But don't tell Bolton he was fired. Just 12 minutes after Trump's tweet, the noted Islamophobe claimed his own narrative. "I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, 'Let's talk about it tomorrow,'" he wrote on Twitter. An hour before Trump's tweets, Bolton was leading a meeting about refugee admissions and tweeting aggressively about Iran.
It's unclear how the fallout truly occurred, but the Daily Beast reported that Trump's Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham texted them the following statement: "Last night, Potus said he wanted Bolton’s resignation on his desk tomorrow AM. Bolton delivered it. Simply put, many of Bolton’s policy priorities did not align w POTUS."
Bolton issued his own response to this impossible back and forth: “[White House] press secretary statement is flatly incorrect," he told the Daily Beast, also in a text.
In a separate text sent to the New York Times, Bolton also texted that he “offered last night without [Trump's] asking. Slept on it and gave it to him this morning.”
This comes after a wild turn of events over the weekend in which Trump invited Afghanistan's government and the insurgent Taliban to Camp David for peace talks and then canceled the meeting, NPR reported. It's unclear what exactly took place that drove the President to change his mind, but he told reporters at the White House on September 9 that the peace talks were effectively "dead." Bolton, who was the national security adviser at the time, would have been crucial to the negotiations — except that Bolton, a known war hawk, wasn't particularly trusted to lead peace talks. So it was reported that he was excluded from meetings about the war in Afghanistan, according to the Washington Post.
It wasn't the first time Bolton advocated for more aggressive tactics than his boss: Bolton and Trump differed at almost every point and on every issue, from how to best approach growing tensions with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to the denuclearization of North Korea to policy negotiations with Iran. Per the New York Times, Bolton had been appointed to the role in April 2018, after Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster stepped down. He was the third National Security Advisor in as many years. Michael Flynn, Trump's first pick, resigned from the post in February 2017; he has since been charged with lying to the FBI.
His departure marks at least the 55th major change-up within the Trump administration. It is not yet clear who will follow Bolton in the role formerly, but Bolton's deputy, Charles Kupperman will serve as acting national security adviser until the President announces his newest hire next week, NPR reported.