The firing of National Security Adviser John Bolton by US President Donald Trump has sent shockwaves on social media and been met with a host of mixed reactions in the United States’ political sphere.
Trump announced Bolton’s dismissal in a tweet on Tuesday, saying he had “disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions,” presumably meaning the hawkish politician’s advocacy for regime change in Syria, Venezuela, North Korea and Iran.
Bolton insisted that he had attempted to resign before Trump’s announcement.
The news swiftly triggered a range of reactions from US officials, with some commenters rejoicing at the war hawk’s departure while others lamenting it.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters at the White House that, “the president is entitled to the staff he wants”. However, he declined to answer when he was asked whether Bolton’s departure was prompted by disagreements between him and Trump over the planned Taliban peace talks.
Another White House official, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, rebuffed the claim that “this national security staff” is "a mess" over Bolton suddenly leaving the administration.
“That’s the most ridiculous question I’ve ever heard,” Mnuchin said.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who is vying for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, wrote on Twitter that, “a symptom of the problem is gone. The root cause of authoritarianism remains.”
US Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted, “The American people are better off with John Bolton out of the White House. The world will be better off when the man who hired him in the first place is out too.”
Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters that, “It’s emblematic of President Trump’s style. He wants people who basically are yes-men. I may not have agreed with Ambassador Bolton on a whole host of issues and his bellicose views, but the one thing about him is he obviously presented counterviews at times for his (Trump’s) consideration. That’s not something the president wants.”
Democratic US Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement, “This firing of the national security advisor is just the latest reminder that the Trump administration’s foreign policy is in complete disarray. ... American leadership is desperately needed around the world. Instead, our national security decision-making process is in chaos and America is less safe.”
Senator Chris Murphy, a Democratic member of the Foreign Relations Committee, noted in a statement, “John Bolton was the wrong choice and the silver lining to this instability is that there will be fewer people whispering war chants in the president’s ear. But no one of any quality is going to take a job in the nation’s national security cabinet so long as everyone’s head is permanently hovering slightly above the chopping block.”
Trump had sometimes joked about Bolton's image as a warmonger, reportedly saying in one Oval Office meeting that "John has never seen a war he doesn't like."
Bolton has adopted an aggressive approach towards Iran since his appointment to the top post by Trump. Independent observers have accused him of conniving with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in order to provoke a military conflict between Iran and the United States.
A White House spokesman said deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman would fill Bolton’s role on an acting basis.