Rumors have engulfed Washington, DC, that former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, who will replace H.R. McMaster as National Security Advisor, is seeking to restaff the agency and remove individuals seen as hostile to the Trump administration agenda.
“Bolton can and will clean house,” a former White House official told Foreign Policy. “Everyone who was there during Obama years should start packing their shit,” another former White House official reportedly said.
Foreign Policy reported that, according to multiple sources, “Bolton and people close to him are expected to launch a massive shake-up at the National Security Council, aiming to remove dozens of current White House officials, starting with holdovers from President Barack Obama’s administration.”
The publication added, “Those targeted for removal include officials believed to have been disloyal to President Donald Trump, those who have leaked about the president to the media, his predecessor’s team, and those who came in under Obama.”
According to Axios, rumors that Bolton had already created a list of people he intends to “purge” from the administration are just that. “The reports that Bolton already has a ‘list’ of people to purge from NSC don’t fit at all with what I’m hearing from sources familiar with his thinking,” Jonathan Swan tweeted. “He’s not there yet. Wants to come in and learn everything. Lots of people are providing him “lists” … doesn’t mean they’re real”:
President Trump recently took greater control of his administration and shifted the dynamic by firing individuals who do not see eye-to-eye with him on foreign policy.
He announced on Twitter he was replacing Gen. H.R. McMaster with Bolton:
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
Trump also replaced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA chief Mike Pompeo, saying Tillerson will be “much happier” outside the administration.
“I wish Rex a lot of good things,” Trump reportedly said. “I think he’s going to be very happy. I think Rex will be much happier now, but I really appreciate his service.”
Trump and Tillerson were divided on several issues, including how to handle disputes with Iran, North Korea, and Russia.
Trump and Bolton appear to have much more in common on the issues of Iran and North Korea, although it has been suggested they are not in sync on the issue of Russia.
Foreign Policy wrote, “Another question concerns Bolton’s traditionally hard-line stance toward Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin, which is at odds with Trump’s.” The publication added, “Two sources familiar with Bolton’s relationship with Trump said one of the big unknowns was how Bolton’s approach to Russia will go over with the president or if he’s even aware of those differences.”