Mon, 16 Sep 2019

VOA National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin and VOA White House Bureau Chief Steve Herman contributed to this report.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he had five people "that I consider very highly qualified" under consideration to be his new national security adviser after ousting John Bolton.

The U.S. leader said he expected to name Bolton's replacement next week, but he did not name any of his favored candidates. "A lot of great people want that position," he said.

Trump said he had "very good relations" with Bolton, "but he wasn't getting along with others" at the White House. "John wasn't in line with what we were doing," Trump said.

Trump Fires His National Security Adviser video player. Embed Copy

He criticized Bolton for once suggesting that the model for dealing with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his country's nuclear weapons arsenal should be the same as that with one-time Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi, who agreed to surrender his nuclear program but later was toppled from power in 2011 and killed in the uprising.

Trump called Bolton's idea a "question of not being smart."

But Trump said he wished Bolton well even as he dismissed him on Tuesday with a Twitter statement. Bolton said he resigned and was not fired.

Earlier, an Iranian government spokesman said Bolton's dismissal could allow Trump to deal with Iran in a "less biased manner."

Ali Rabiei said Bolton was a "symbol of America's hawkish policies" and animosity toward Iran. Officials, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, had repeatedly pointed to Bolton as a figure opposed to dialogue in resolving U.S.-Iran tensions.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that Trump's firing of Bolton would not change the president's foreign policy.

"I don't think any leader around the world should make any assumption that because one of us departs that President Trump's foreign policy will change in a material way," Pompeo said less than two hours after Trump announced he had ousted Bolton.

Pompeo appeared on the White House podium along with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to discuss an executive order strengthening sanctions to combat terrorism.

Bolton was supposed to join the briefing, announced only hours earlier, indicating the hasty nature of his departure.

Bolton's deputy, Charlie Kupperman, is now the acting national security adviser.

'I offered to resign'

Bolton, in an immediate response to his ouster on Twitter, said: "I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, 'Let's talk about it tomorrow.' "

The White House denies that any single issue caused the break between Bolton and Trump.

"They just didn't align on many issues," spokesman Hogan Gidley told reporters while Pompeo said, "There were many times Ambassador Bolton and I disagreed."

"It would seem it's business as usual in this administration," former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told VOA. "Of course, foreign nations watch the chaos, which the president relishes, with either glee or gloom, depending on how they feel about the U.S."

Bolton had reportedly been opposed to plans to invite Taliban members and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to the Camp David presidential retreat for talks last Sunday aimed at solidifying a U.S.-Taliban peace deal.

Trump canceled the meeting after a recent Taliban attack killed a U.S. soldier.

There also have been indications that Bolton, a hard-liner on security issues, also differed with the president on the approach to Iran, North Korea and Venezuela.

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