HR McMaster out; John Bolton his replacement

Posted at 6:30 PM, Mar 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-22 15:01:27-04

(RNN) - After outlets reported last week that H.R. McMaster would soon leave the White House, Trump tweeted on Thursday that McMaster in fact will step aside as National Security Adviser.

John Bolton will be his replacement.

The president said Bolton would assume his post on April 9. He said McMaster "has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend."

The White House had denied last week's reports. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took to Twitter to say the president and McMaster "have a good working relationship and there are no changes at the NSC."

Bolton is a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from August 2005 to December 2006 and current Fox News commentator.

Bolton also is associated with the American Enterprise Institute and the Washington, DC, law firm Kirland & Ellis. He’s also the chairman of the Gatestone Institute, a conservative think tank.

Bolton is notably hawkish on military matters. He made a case for striking North Korea in The Wall Street Journal last month and wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in 2015 advocating bombing Iran.  

Despite Bolton's public foreign policy positions sometimes being at odds with Trump's, the president has often praised Bolton's commentary on Fox News.

McMaster's exit comes amid a wave of high-level departures, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn and communications director Hope Hicks.

McMaster and Trump's relationship had strained in recent weeks. Last month the president publicly chided the general on Twitter.

At a security conference in Germany in mid-February, McMaster called proof of Russian interference in the 2016 election "now incontrovertible" following indictments by special counsel Robert Mueller of 13 Russian individuals and three companies in the case.

The president has consistently downplayed the extent and impact of the Russian operation, and following McMaster's remarks in Germany tweeted: "General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems."

Multiple reports said the two had always struggled to develop a comfortable rapport. McMaster's direct, unsparing demeanor was said to clash with the president's more unfettered style. 

Trump announced  McMaster as his national security adviser on Feb. 20, 2017. He replaced Michael Flynn, who resigned after just 24 days on the job when it came to light he'd lied about his contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.

He became an authoritative voice for the administration on foreign policy and military matters, outlining a vision for the White House on matters such as taking a tough stance with Iran and playing an assertive role in Syria.

McMaster was the former commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning.

"I'd just like to say what a privilege it is to be able to continue serving our nation," McMaster said at the time of his appointment. "I am grateful to (the president) for that opportunity, and I look forward to joining the national security team and doing everything I can to advance and protect the interests of the American people."

McMaster reportedly was not Trump's first choice. The president had planned to offer the job to Adm. Robert Harward, but he turned it down. 

McMaster has a decorated record of military service, largely in Iraq, in the original Gulf War in the early '90s and again after the 2003 invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

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