Sources close to President Trump say he feels John Bolton, hurriedly named last night to replace H.R. McMaster as national security adviser, will finally deliver the foreign policy the president wants — particularly on Iran and North Korea, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports:
- Bolton, who was U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under President George W. Bush, was not White House chief of staff John Kelly’s candidate for the job. Kelly had nothing to do with his appointment, according to a source close to Bolton. Nor was he Defense Secretary James Mattis’ choice.
- A source close to Bolton: “He only owes his job to one man and one man only ... And that man is Donald J. Trump.”
We can’t overstate how dramatic a change it is for Trump to replace H.R. McMaster with Bolton:
- It’s not just that Bolton is more hawkish on Iran and North Korea — though of course he is. It’s that Bolton knows his way around the bureaucracy and won’t take anybody’s crap. He won’t show deference to Mattis or the generals, say sources who know him well.
- Allies of McMaster have long complained that John Kelly, Mattis and outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson considered him a junior partner and treated him like garbage.
- A source close to McMaster told Swan: "One of the downsides of what happened is I only wish Tillerson was around to experience this. The two of them that wanted him out most —Mattis and Tillerson — I only wish they were both around to endure the pain of National Security Adviser Bolton. They hated him [McMaster] but they're going to like this a lot less."
- Until now, Mattis and Tillerson have been trying to restrain what they consider some of the president’s more dangerous instincts, and have been on the opposite side of major issues, including moving the U.S embassy to Jerusalem and trying to persuade Trump not to tear up the Iran nuclear deal.
- Sources who know Bolton expect he will stare down Mattis, tell him when he’s wrong, and will be a Henry Kissinger-type presence in the room. Now that Tillerson is gone, he could fundamentally tip the balance of power on Trump’s national security team, senior officials expect.