Columns

McMaster Out; John Bolton to be New National Security Advisor

National security adviser H.R. McMaster waves as he walks into the West Wing of the White House in Washington on March 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON — After sustained rumblings of rumors that he would be the next person out of the White House’s revolving door, National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster is leaving and former UN Ambassador John Bolton will take his place.

“I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, @AmbJohnBolton will be my new National Security Advisor. I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend. There will be an official contact handover on 4/9,” President Trump tweeted today.

Bolton will be Trump’s third national security advisor, a position that doesn’t require Senate confirmation.

Unlike Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s departure last week, McMaster wasn’t fired by tweet. Trump reportedly called McMaster shortly after 5 p.m., after weeks of discussion with Bolton about the swap.

Bolton was spotted at the White House today before the announcement.

McMaster, a three-star Army general who has remained on active duty throughout his time at the White House, replaced Michael Flynn in February 2017 and cleaned house at the National Security Council with several staff replacements. A week ago, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied rumors that McMaster was on the way out.

Bolton was a recess appointee in the George W. Bush administration from August 2005 until he stepped down in December 2006, before he would have faced confirmation proceedings before a new Democratic majority. Since leaving the Bush administration, Bolton has been a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a Fox News commentator.

The hawkish former ambassador reportedly promised Trump he wouldn’t “start any wars” if named to his new position.

“After thirty-four years of service to our nation, I am requesting retirement from the U.S. Army effective this summer after which I will leave public service. Throughout my career it has been my greatest privilege to serve alongside extraordinary servicemembers and dedicated civilians,” McMaster said in a statement.

He thanked Trump for the opportunity to serve as national security advisor and the National Security Council “who worked together to provide the president with the best options to protect and advance our national interests.”

“I am especially proud to have served alongside the men and women of the National Security Council Staff who established a strong foundation for protecting the American people, promoting American prosperity, achieving peace through strength, and advancing American influence,” McMaster added. “I know that these patriots will continue to serve our president and our nation with distinction.”

A White House official said on background that talks had been underway for some time between Trump and McMaster about a change, and the timeline was stepped up because of growing speculation about a new national security advisor.

“He helped develop our America First National Security Strategy, revitalize our alliances in the Middle East, smash ISIS, bring North Korea to the table, and strengthen our nation’s prosperity,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House.

White House chief of staff John Kelly, facing speculation of his own about how long his administration tenure will last, called McMaster “a fine American and military officer.”

“He has served with distinction and honor throughout his career… he brought and maintained discipline and energy to our vital interagency process,” Kelly said. “He helped develop options for the president and ensured that those options were presented fully and fairly. A true solider-scholar, his impact on his country and this government will be felt for years to come.”