Bolton also took the lead on Venezuela, assuring Trump that its socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, could be easily ousted from office. At one news briefing, Bolton stood with a notepad visible to the cameras on which he'd scrawled a line about "5,000 troops to Venezuela" that appeared to be a threat of a U.S. incursion.
Trump invested political capital in the project, welcoming Venezuelan opposition figures into the Oval Office and declaring recognition of opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of the beleaguered oil-rich country. But nine months later, Maduro has not budged, the opposition is flailing, and the entire mission has stalled.
Bolton was an open skeptic of Trump's warm embrace of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, warning that the dictator would never give up his nuclear weapons. When Trump became the first U.S. president to step into the Korean demilitarized zone in June, grasping hands with Kim, those present included Pompeo, the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Bolton was more than a thousand miles away in Mongolia.
At a White House briefing Tuesday afternoon, Pompeo didn't sugarcoat the clashes.
"There were many times Ambassador Bolton and I disagreed," Pompeo said. "That's to be sure."
Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, said Bolton was never a clear fit for the role since the national security adviser's job was to synthesize information for the president, whereas Bolton had always been more of an advocate.
Trump "likes to have a hard takeoff and a softer landing. Bolton is a hardliner across the board," Doran said.
"I'm actually surprised that he lasted as long as he did," he added.
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