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Trump Just Had 5 Biting Things to Say About Bolton

'He made some very big mistakes'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2019 1:51 PM CDT
5 Harsh Things Trump Just Said About John Bolton
This Feb. 7, 2019 file photo shows, from left, National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and President Donald Trump.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Newser) – The Hill calls it a "public rebuke of a top aide that would have been extraordinary before the Trump White House": The president on Wednesday elaborated on his firing of John Bolton in an Oval Office meeting with reporters. Five standout things he said about his former National Security Adviser:

  • 1. "He made some very big mistakes."
  • 2. "Frankly he wanted to do things—not necessarily tougher than me—you know John’s known as a tough guy. He’s so tough he got us into Iraq ... but he’s actually somebody I had a very good relationship with. But he wasn't getting along with people in the administration that I consider very important."

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  • 3. "As soon as he mentioned that, the Libyan model, what a disaster. Take a look at what happened to Gadhafi. I don't blame Kim Jong Un for what he said after that. And he wanted nothing to do with John Bolton. And that's not a question of being tough. That’s a question of being not smart to say something like that." (Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake notes that comment was made 16 months ago. See this story for more context.)
  • 4. "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. Mr. tough guy, you know, you had to go into Iraq."
  • 5. "I hope we left on good stead, but maybe we haven't," the Guardian quotes Trump as saying.
  • CNN sees Trump as keeping his eye on the prize, and needing Bolton out of his way: "Trump's first term, while succeeding in traumatizing US allies and causing global disruption, is largely bereft of the big wins the great dealmaker promised back in 2016." With Bolton gone, "US diplomacy is likely to reflect its principal author even more closely. It will be more impulsive, less strategic, and more geared to creating iconic moments, like the President's stroll into North Korea with Kim Jong Un."
  • The Wall Street Journal similarly frames Bolton as a now-departed "counterweight" to Trump, and predicts his "exit could remove a barrier to a meeting at the United Nations with Iran’s president later this month, or to talks with members of the insurgent Afghan Taliban movement."
  • Robert Schlesinger echoes that, writing at NBC News: "Bolton had become a foreign policy Dr. No, tamping down Trump’s desire to go for big, showy deals with North Korea, Iran and the Taliban. Whoever replaces him will know to cheer on Trump’s ideas, no matter how ill-conceived."
(Read more President Trump stories.)

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