And the palace intrigue continues. This Tuesday, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to announce that John Bolton was out as his national security adviser. He’s the third person to fill the role in Trump’s administration in under three years — but that high turnover rate is not the only point of contention that’s arisen. Bolton has flipped, trying desperately to insist that he’s the one who’s responsible for his departure, not Trump. In his description, he’s the one who offered his resignation, and according to him, he was not fired. His desperation reached such an apparent fever pitch that he texted Fox News host Brian Kilmeade while Kilmeade was on the air to push his side of the story.
On Twitter at about noon eastern time this Tuesday, Trump had abruptly written:
‘I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House… I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning.’
The explanation Trump gave is that there were too many policy disagreements between him and Bolton, which apparently covered “many” topics — but Bolton said not so fast.
About fifteen minutes after Trump’s initial tweet, Bolton took to Twitter himself (from his official White House role account no less) and posted a message directly contradicting his now former boss. He wrote:
‘I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, “Let’s talk about it tomorrow.”‘
About fifteen minutes after that, CNN’s Brian Stelter shared on Twitter:
‘Quite a moment on Fox –> Host @Kilmeade said “John Bolton just texted me. Just now. He’s watching. And he said, ‘Let’s be clear. I resigned.'”‘
So who’s telling the truth? The fact that the national security adviser to the president of the United States had a far-right cable news talking head on speed dial or something is enough of an issue in itself, but the situation doesn’t end there. The foreign policy of the United States has been crippled by the machinations of Donald Trump’s ego, who — if we try and take both men’s stories as having some kernel of truth — responded to Bolton offering his resignation by saying “you can’t quit; you’re fired.” How inspirational.
As Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) put it:
‘I’m legitimately shaken by the grave instability of American foreign policy today. I’m no Bolton fan, but the world is coming apart, and the revolving door of U.S. leadership is disappearing America from the world just at the moment where a stable American hand is most needed.’
This whole incident unfolded soon after a meeting with the Taliban at Camp David that Trump had sought for just days before the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks fell apart. According to some reporting, opposition to that plan reached as high as Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence. The official line from the White House is that the plans got cancelled because the Taliban claimed responsibility for a bombing attack in Kabul that claimed the lives of a number of people including one American soldier.
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