Posts tagged with "National Security Adviser John Bolton"

Going nowhere fast? Trump and Bolton tell different stories on Syria

January 8, 2019

On Monday morning, January 7, President Donald Trump clapped back against reports that National Security Adviser John Bolton had contradicted him the day before during an interview from Israel. While Bolton said that American troops would be withdrawn from Syria at “a proper pace,” and that “objectives” must be achieved before that happens, the president continued to insist that the United States would pull out of the war-torn country immediately.

Referring to a story in The New York Times in which Bolton “told reporters that American forces would remain in Syria until the last remnants of the Islamic State were defeated and Turkey provided guarantees that it would not strike Kurdish forces allied with the United States,” Trump shot off a tweet, saying:

The Failing New York Times has knowingly written a very inaccurate story on my intentions on Syria. No different from my original statements, we will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary!…..”

The “original statements”—about which Trump refused to backpeddle—were made in December. At that time the president emerged from a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and abruptly announced that he was pulling U.S. troops out of Syria—without consulting with the Defense Department, the U.S. Congress, or America’s longtime allies.

The move prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, as well as strong rebukes from several Republican lawmakers.

According to a report by The Washington Post, the president actually has backed off on his original intent: While officials said Trump had initially ordered a 30-day departure, the White House later agreed to an exit within 120 days, which would permit troops more time to break down bases and safely remove equipment and personnel.

In another twist, Bolton also suggested that the United States might not withdraw all American forces after all, and instead could leave some at a garrison in southeast Syria, the Post said.

Research contact: @SangerNYT

Three more administration officials head toward Trump’s losers’ circle

November 15, 2018

Insiders at the White House might be humming Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next,” as—just a week after requesting the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions—the president prepares once again to reconfigure his cabinet and West Wing staff.

First on the list of goners is almost certainly Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of Homeland Security. She has long been a target of Trump’s tirades, three people close to the president told The New York Times for a November 13 report. Indeed, the POTUS had floated the idea of dismissing Nielsen ahead of his trip to Paris for World War I commemoration ceremonies.

And if Nielsen goes, one of her strong supporters may be ousted, too. Internally at the White House, the Times said, removing Nielsen is perceived as a way for President Trump to push out White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, without directly firing him.

Although, the news outlet said, Trump and Kelly supposedly arrived at a plan earlier this year for the chief of staff to stay through the 2020 election, the POTUS privately has hinted that he would not bet on Kelly remaining in his job that long.

Kelly’s likely successor already is in the queue: Nick Ayers, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, long has been seen as a prospective replacement for Kelly, if and when he makes his exit—and is favored by the president’s family members, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Trump.

Finally, another administration official who is at or near the departures gate, following a run-in with First Lady Melania Trump, is Mira Ricardel, who serves as a deputy to National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Ricardel, who previously worked at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill, had disparaged two members of the East Wing staff during the FLOTUS’s trip to Africa last month, a Times source said. She also is rumored to have tangled with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on issues of policy and Pentagon personnel.

The rift with Melania Trump hit the headlines this week when—in a highly unusual statement about West Wing personnel matters—a spokesperson for the first lady, Stephanie Grisham, addressed Ricardel’s status. “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,” Grisham said.

Since the president hates interpersonal confrontation, he often delays dismissals and then delegates them to Kelly. How these next staff changes will be handled is anybody’s guess.

Research contact: @maggieNYT

Editor’s update (11/15): Mira Ricardel now has been removed from her national security job in the White House and will continue to serve the administration in another role.