President Donald Trump on Wednesday savaged former national security adviser John Bolton one day after unceremoniously dismissing him via Twitter — blasting his hawkish ex-aide’s hard-charging brand of diplomacy and partly blaming him for launching the Iraq War.
In a winding assessment of his tenure atop the White House’s National Security Council, delivered to reporters assembled in the Oval Office, Trump alternated between vicious criticism of Bolton and an insistence that they had maintained a warm working relationship.
“John is somebody that I actually get along with very well. He made some very big mistakes,” Trump said, repeatedly referencing Bolton’s invocation of a “Libya model” for North Korean denuclearization in April 2018.
“It set us back, and frankly, he wanted to do things not necessarily tougher than me,” Trump said. “You know, John’s known as a tough guy. He’s so tough, he got us into Iraq. That’s tough.”
Trump again claimed later in his remarks that it was he, not Bolton, who at times advocated for a more muscular foreign policy approach, despite Bolton’s perceived proclivity for military intervention and championing of the 2003 invasion of Iraq from within former President George W. Bush’s administration.
“You know, John wasn’t in line with what we were doing, and actually, in some cases, he thought it was too tough what we were doing,” Trump said. “‘Mr. Tough Guy.’ You know, ‘You have to go into Iraq.’ Going into Iraq was something that he felt very strongly about.”
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