President Donald Trump issued a broadside against former National Security Advisor John Bolton Wednesday, saying the “tough guy” was not “in line” with the administration’s priorities, prompting his ouster.
The president further criticized Bolton, saying in a public rebuke that he played a central role in initiating the second Iraq war, a conflict in which Trump has repeatedly bemoaned America’s involvement.
“John’s known as a tough guy. He’s so tough he got us into Iraq. That’s tough,” Trump told reporters during an impromptu Oval Office gathering. “But he’s somebody that I actually had a very good relationship with, but he wasn’t getting along with people in the administration who I consider very important. I hope we’ve left in good standing, maybe we have and maybe we haven’t. I have to run the country the way we’re running the country.”
Trump said Tuesday that he asked for Bolton’s resignation following a tenure that has been marked by policy disagreements with the president on a slew of foreign policy hotspots, including Venezuela, North Korea, and, most recently, Iran.
Bolton has maintained, however, that he offered his resignation to the president in stark contrast to Trump’s timeline of events.
Trump’s belittling of a former top official is just the latest in a series of what would have in any other administration been an exceptionally rare public lashing.
The president further took issue with Bolton’s use of the term “Libyan model” to describe the U.S. approach to North Korea, saying his use of the phrase “set us back.”
“That was not a good statement to make. You just take a look at what happened with Gaddafi,” Trump said in reference to the deposed former Libyan leader who was brutally lynched by his own people. “And it set us back. And frankly he wanted to do things – not necessarily tougher than me.”