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Trump’s new national security adviser Bolton takes charge

John Bolton’s taking charge comes a day after national security council spokesperson Michael Anton

world Updated: Apr 10, 2018 00:03 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US President Donald Trump,national security adviser John Bolton,Michael Anton
National security adviser John Bolton (right) looks on as US president Donald Trump speaks to reporters.(NYT)

US President Donald Trump’s third national security adviser John Bolton started work on Monday, a day after the White House announced the abrupt departure of Michael Anton as the top spokesperson of the national security council.

Bolton tweeted on Sunday: “Tomorrow I look forward to starting as National Security Advisor, and working with President Trump and his team to keep America safe and secure in these challenging times.”

Anton is leaving to join a conservative school’s Washington chapter as a writer and lecturer. It was not immediately known if his departure was linked to Bolton taking charge — some reports said Bolton may order a massive shake-up of the national security council staff to get rid of political appointees.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement, “Michael is one of the smartest and most talented individuals I’ve ever worked with — not to mention an amazing chef. He has been more than a colleague, he is a true friend.”

Trump had not remarked on his departure at the time of going to print.

Anton told Politico news site: “I will be forever grateful to President Trump for the opportunity to serve my country and implement his agenda.”

Anton was known for a famous piece he wrote in the run up to the 2016 election, in which he had rallied conservatives by arguing that “a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian roulette with a semi-auto”, while with a Trump presidency “at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances”.

Bolton’s appointment, announced by Trump on Twitter in March, came amidst a massive shake up of his national security team. The former US ambassador to the UN replaced HR McMaster shortly after CIA director Mike Pompeo was moved to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and Gina Haspel was moved up the CIA ladder to make her the first woman to head the spy agency.

Bolton, a foreign policy hawk who supported the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, joins the administration at a critical time as Trump struggles to deal with Syria, from where he wants to withdraw US troops. But on Sunday, he threatened to make “Animal Assad” pay a “big price” for using chemical weapons.

Also on the table is the upcoming talks with Kim Jong Un, and Bolton will be watched closely as he has long advocated a military solution in dealing with North Korea.

Bolton is also very hawkish on Iran, and he and Trump may look to tear up or renegotiate the 2015 nuclear deal signed by former President Barack Obama and other western powers with Tehran to stop its nuclear weapons programme.

First Published: Apr 09, 2018 23:36 IST