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Trump fires national security adviser John Bolton

Eli Stokols, Chris Megerian and Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump said Tuesday he had fired national security adviser John Bolton, announcing in a tweet that he had told Bolton on Monday night that "his services are no longer needed" after the two had repeatedly clashed over foreign policy priorities and decisions.

The abrupt ouster of Trump's third national security adviser comes as the White House grapples with a series of fraught challenges, including Trump's cancellation of peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan, his costly trade war with China, his "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, and his attempts, unsuccessful so far, to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal.

While Trump said he would name a new national security adviser next week, the latest high-level shake-up at the White House raised fresh doubts about Trump's stewardship of foreign policy -- and control of his own staff -- as he headed into his reelection campaign.

The White House said Charles M. Kupperman, who joined the administration in January as deputy national security adviser, will serve in an acting role.

Kupperman, 68, a veteran of the country's national security establishment, served in President Ronald Reagan's administration and worked for defense contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin. He has a doctorate in strategic studies from the University of Southern California and has focused on defense, arms control and aerospace during his career.

A White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, said the president wanted a national security adviser "who can carry out his agenda," which includes disengaging from foreign conflicts. "It's very clear that John Bolton's policies and priorities did not align with President Trump's," he said on Fox News.

 

As often happens under Trump, there was immediate confusion as to the sequence of events, and under what circumstances, with Trump and Bolton offering conflicting accounts of whether and when he had resigned or been fired.

Trump tweeted around noon Monday that he had informed Bolton of his decision "last night," adding, "I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration."

"I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service," he said.

But Bolton contradicted that sequence of events, throwing into question whether the two men had had a face-to-face discussion about the firing, something Trump has avoided in making other major personnel changes.

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