Pompeo says Trump was “well within his rights” to oust Bolton

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo weighed in on President Trump’s decision to fire National Security Adviser John Bolton soon after Mr. Trump announced it on Twitter.

The president is entitled to the staff that he wants at any moment,” Pompeo told reporters in the White House briefing room Tuesday, adding, “He should have people he trusts and values and whose efforts and judgment benefit him in delivering American foreign policy.”

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“When the president of the United States makes a decision like this, he’s well within his rights to do so,” Pompeo said.

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He and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke to reporters Tuesday to announce a presidential executive order to give the president more latitude to impose sanctions to combat terrorism, but it was Bolton’s departure from the White House that attracted more attention, especially since Pompeo and Bolton had recently clashed over Afghanistan policy.

“There were definitely places that Ambassador Bolton and I had different views about how we should proceed,” Pompeo said of his relationship with Bolton.

The suddenness of Bolton’s ouster was apparent, in that the White House had just announced that Pompeo, Mnuchin and Bolton would be holding a briefing when the president soon afterward announced Bolton was out as national security adviser. Bolton was no longer at the White House by the time that Pompeo and Mnuchin held their briefing. Asked whether Bolton’s firing had therefore come as a surprise, Pompeo replied, smiling, “I’m never surprised,” though he declined to say more about what he called “palace intrigue.”

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told a handful of reporters Tuesday that the president and Bolton disagreed on a variety of issues, and the president asked for Bolton’s resignation Monday night. But Bolton insists he offered his explanation.

Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that he had asked Bolton to resign on Monday evening.

“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore … I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.

Bolton said in his own tweet that he offered to resign Monday: “I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow.'”

The former national security adviser had clashed with Pompeo over recent U.S. negotiations with the Taliban to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

But Grisham insisted the president and Bolton differed on many issues, and the Taliban invite wasn’t the breaking point.

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