In the latest major staffing change to impact the White House, President Donald Trump this week announced his intention to replace his national security adviser.
He confirmed his intention Thursday in a tweet, explaining he will replace current national security adviser H.R. McMaster with former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, effective next month.
“I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend,” Trump wrote.
I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, @AmbJohnBolton will be my new National Security Advisor. I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend. There will be an official contact handover on 4/9.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2018
In an appearance on Fox News shortly after Trump posted the tweet, Bolton himself expressed surprise over the abrupt announcement.
“I didn’t really expect that announcement this afternoon, but it’s obviously a great honor,” he said. “It’s always an honor to serve our country and I think particularly in these times internationally, it’s a particular honor.”
Bolton served as a recess appointment under President George W. Bush as U.N. ambassador on a temporary basis.
His Senate confirmation stalled, however, when some Republicans joined Democrats in criticizing his hawkish policies in Iraq and elsewhere as well as previous controversial comments regarding the legitimacy of the U.N.
Unlike ambassadors, a president’s national security adviser appointee does not require congressional confirmation.
On issues like the Iraq War, where he disagrees with Trump, Bolton said he would defer to the president’s positions, as reported by Bloomberg.
“I’ve never been shy about what my views are,” Bolton said in his Fox News interview Thursday. In his new position, however, he said his personal opinions will play a diminished role “and the important thing is what the president says and what advice I give him.”
The staffing change came amid widespread speculation that McMaster was among several high-level officials on the chopping block as Trump continues to reconfigure his inner circle.
As CBS News reported earlier this month, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was among those speaking on Trump’s behalf to confirm McMaster’s position was safe.
She repeated the assurance during a news briefing and on Twitter.
Just spoke to @POTUS and Gen. H.R. McMaster – contrary to reports they have a good working relationship and there are no changes at the NSC.
— Stephanie Grisham (@PressSec) March 16, 2018
Adding to his Twitter announcement, Trump issued a separate statement offering further praise for McMaster’s service.
“General McMaster’s leadership of the National Security Council staff has helped my administration accomplish great things to bolster America’s national security,” he said.
Trump went on to offer specific accomplishments, including the Army officer’s efforts to “develop our America First National Security Strategy, revitalize our alliances in the Middle East, smash ISIS, bring North Korea to the table, and strengthen our nation’s prosperity.”
He concluded that McMaster’s “achievements will ensure that America builds on its economic and military advantages.”
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