Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says “I’m never surprised,” when asked if he was shocked about the sudden departure of National Security Adviser John Bolton.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday forced out Bolton, his hawkish national security adviser with whom he had significant disagreements on Iran, Afghanistan and a cascade of other global challenges.
The two men offered opposing accounts on Bolton’s less than friendly departure.
Trump tweeted that he told Bolton Monday night his services were no longer needed at the White House and Bolton submitted his resignation Tuesday morning.
Bolton responded in a tweet of his own that he offered to resign Monday “and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow’.”
Pompeo was speaking at an unrelated briefing at the White House and acknowledged that he had often disagreed with Bolton on issues.
“There were many times that Ambassador Bolton and I disagreed. That’s to be sure,” Pompeo said.
“There were definitely places that Ambassador Bolton and I had different views about how we should proceed.”
Asked if world leaders should expect changes in Trump’s foreign policies going forward, Pompeo replied: “I don’t think any leader around the world should make any assumption that because some one of us departs that President Trump’s foreign policy will change in a material way.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who appeared with Pompeo, said: “The president’s view of the Iraq war and Ambassador Bolton’s was very different.”
But when he was asked if the President’s National Security Team was “a mess” Mnuchin responded “Absolutely not” and said it was the most ridiculous question he’d ever heard.
Bolton and his National Security Council staff were also viewed warily by some in the White House who viewed them as more attuned to their own agendas than the president’ and some administration aides have accused Bolton’s staff of being behind leaks of information embarrassing to Trump.
Bolton’s ouster came as a surprise to many in the White House. Just an hour before Trump’s tweet, the press office announced that Bolton would join Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a briefing.
A White House official said that Bolton had departed the premises after Trump’s tweet and would no longer appear as scheduled.