Although John Bolton’s strong opinions prevented him from earning Senate approval for his position as UN Ambassador during the Bush-era, he has just been given a new top-level position in President Trump’s administration.
As announced Thursday, Bolton will replace General HR McMaster as National Security Adviser.
“I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend,” tweeted Trump. “There will be an official contact handover on 4/9.”
In a longer statement, Trump credited McMaster’s “leadership” in helping the Administration bolster national security, strengthen alliances in the Middle East, “smash ISIS,” and “bring North Korea to the table.”
McMaster’s decision to retire follows ongoing uncertainty about his job status that reportedly interfered with his duties at the White House. Friction between McMaster and Trump peaked in February when McMaster said there was “incontrovertible” proof that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
The comment earned him a public scolding from Trump, who tweeted, “McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only collusion was between Russia and crooked Hillary, the DNC, and the Dems.”
McMaster’s exit comes less than two weeks after Trump replaced Sec. of State Rex Tillerson with former CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and less than one month after Hope Hicks quit her job as WH communications director. McMaster himself was hired to replace Michael Flynn, who was fired just a few weeks into the job for lying about his contacts with Russia. Flynn pled guilty to making false statements when questioned as part of Robert Muller’s Russia collusion probe.
“I am thankful to President Donald J. Trump for the opportunity to serve him and our nation as natural security adviser,” said McMaster on Thursday. “I am grateful for the friendship and support of the members of the National Security Council who worked together to provide the President with the best options to protect and advance our national interests.”
So who is John Bolton?
Bolton is a notoriously hawkish former lawyer who held several positions in the State and Justice Departments during the Bush and Reagan Administrations.
He has also worked as a Fox News analyst and continues to make frequent appearances on the network. During an interview with Fox in December 2016, Bolton claimed he was being considered as a Secretary of State candidate for the incoming Trump Administration. The following December, he told Fox that Hillary Clinton faked a concussion to avoid testifying before Congress about Benghazi.
Bolton appeared on the network Thursday night shortly after the news of his hiring was announced. “It’s still sinking in, so I haven’t thought about it a great deal,” he told host Martha MacCallum when she asked what the job meant to him.
In his new job, Bolton will be tasked with advising Trump on high-stakes decisions including proposed talks with Kim Jong-un and whether to maintain the JCPOA’s sanctions relief on Iran.
Republicans say he is a great choice for the position, while Democrats are concerned he could push us into an overseas war.
The appointments of Pompeo and Bolton are Trump’s way of “lining up his war cabinet,” tweeted Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey (D). “Bolton played a key role in politicizing the intel that misled us into the Iraq War. We cannot let this extreme war hawk blunder us into another terrible conflict.”
Bolton is an advocate for striking North Korea first and predicted just a few weeks ago that negotiations with the Kim regime would fail.
Only time will tell if Bolton indeed intends to get the United States into another war or if he will be the strong leader the Republicans need on the international stage.