Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that he had a number of foreign policy differences with ex-national security advisor John Bolton — and that President Trump had the right to have the staff he wanted in place.
“Last night, the president asked for John Bolton’s resignation. As I understand it, it was received this morning,” he said during a White House briefing on new sanctions against terrorist supporters — a briefing Bolton was scheduled to attend.
Pompeo would not talk about the president’s and Bolton’s differing accounts of his departure, with Trump saying he was fired and Bolton saying that he’d quit.
“I’ll leave that to the president to talk about the reasons he made the decision, but I would say this. The president is entitled to the staff that he wants at any moment,” he said.
“This is a staff person that works directly with the president of the United States, and he should have people that he trusts and values and whose efforts and judgments benefit him in delivering American foreign policy.”
Pompeo said he was not surprised by the move, even though the White House had announced an hour before Bolton’s apparent ouster that he would be attending the briefing, in which sanctions were announced against groups affiliated with Hamas, ISIS, al Qaeda, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds-Force.
“I’m never surprised,” the top US diplomat said, while acknowledging that he and Bolton didn’t see eye-to-eye.
“Look, I don’t talk about the inner workings of how this all goes. We all give our candid opinions. There were many times Ambassador Bolton and I disagreed, that’s to be sure, but that’s true with a lot of people with whom I interact,” he said.
And Pompeo bristled when CNN’s Jim Acosta asked him if his national security team was “a mess.”
“Absolutely not. That’s the most ridiculous question I’ve ever heard of. Let me just say, the national security team, which is what you asked, consists of the national security adviser, the secretary of defense, the secretary of state, myself, the chief of staff and many others,” he said.
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