Donald Trump Taps John Bolton to Replace H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser

The Fox News commentator will be the third person to fill the position in less than two years.

Jeff Malet/Newscom via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

H.R. McMaster, the president’s second national security adviser, is stepping down and will be replaced by John Bolton, a former ambassador to the UN. President Donald Trump announced the news on Twitter Thursday evening.

Bolton is one of the GOP’s leading warmongers. Last month, Bolton wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal titled “The Legal Case for Striking North Korea First”. Bolton spent most of his time during Barack Obama’s administration calling for the US to go to war with Iran. As Mother Jones‘ David Corn explained back in 2015 when Trump first started palling around with him, Bolton was one of the main neocons pushing war with Iraq during the Bush administration:

Bolton has long been one of the most hawkish of all the neoconservative hawks. He was part of the Bush-Cheney crew that claimed Saddam Hussein had amassed weapons of mass destruction and that war was the only option. As a top State Department official prior to the 2003 Iraq invasion, Bolton pushed the false claims that Iraq had obtained aluminum tubes and uranium for its supposed nuclear weapons program. He was also a supporter of a conspiracy theorist named Laurie Mylroie who contended that Saddam was behind the 9/11 attacks. Before Bush launched the Iraq War, Bolton predicted that “the American role actually will be fairly minimal.” (In 1997, he was one of several conservatives who wrote to President Bill Clinton and urged him to attack Saddam.)

Not surprisingly, Bolton has stuck to the position that the Iraq invasion was the right move. In May, he said, “I still think the decision to overthrow Saddam was correct.”

McMaster’s departure follows months of escalating tensions with Trump, who had reportedly grown increasingly frustrated with McMaster’s disciplined approach to briefings. 

Those private clashes took a very public turn in February when Trump chastised McMaster after the national security adviser described evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election as “incontrovertible.” McMaster’s remarks, which were made during the Munich Security Conference, contradicted Trump’s repeated statements that Russian interference was a “hoax” and that the special counsel looking into it should instead be focusing on Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.

Trump named McMaster to the position in February 2017, after his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned amid reports that he had lied about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.