The president says he fired his national security adviser. Bolton says he resigned. Either way, their conflict was deep — and irreconcilable.
For months, the Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson had been lobbying President Donald Trump to fire John Bolton, telling him it was foolish to keep on his team a top adviser who did not share his views on pressing national security issues.
Carlson and a host of others, including several senior administration officials, frequently told Trump that Bolton, a career hawk with a reputation as a vicious bureaucratic infighter, not only wasn’t on his team but was using the news media against him.
Trump, who became a fan of his future national security adviser while watching his frequent television appearances on Fox, told these people that he enjoyed Bolton’s presence in negotiations because he believed he spooked U.S. adversaries like Iran. But he chafed at reading about and watching news reports of Bolton’s disagreements with administration policy on everything from talks with North Korea to pulling troops out of Syria to angling for a sitdown with Iranian leaders.
“Where there is public disagreement like that and it keeps going on from one issue to another, I do think there is a cumulative effect on the human psyche and it probably leads to less communication,” said Gen. Jack Keane, the former Army vice chief of staff who talks frequently with the president and other senior administration officials.
Ultimately, it was hearing media accounts about how Bolton had advised the president to scuttle a meeting with Taliban leaders at Camp David that proved a breaking point for Trump, according to sources in and out of the administration. In the president’s telling, he had taken his own counsel in arriving at the decision to call off the meeting and end the negotiations, and he was infuriated to hear Bolton credited with influencing his decision.
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