The sudden ouster of John Bolton as Donald Trump’s national security adviser has been met with varying reactions from leaders around the world. Notably hawkish on Iran, Bolton had been a key opponent of holding talks with leaders in Tehran.
Trump and Bolton, known for his hawkish views, had disagreed on key foreign policy challenges including Russia, North Korea, Iran and Afghanistan. Last year Bolton masterminded a quiet campaign inside the administration – and with allies abroad – to persuade Trump to keep US forces in Syria to counter the remnants of the Islamic State group and Iranian influence in the region.
According to US media reports, the president’s extraordinary, failed bid to fly Taliban leaders to the presidential retreat at Camp David last weekend sparked a major and final row.
But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cautioned that Bolton’s exit should not be interpreted as heralding a change in strategy.
“I don’t think any leader around the world should make any assumption that because someone of us departs that President Trump’s foreign policy will change in a material way,” Pompeo told reporters.
A replacement – the White House’s fourth national security chief in less than three years – would be named next week, Trump said.
Officials in several countries welcomed Bolton’s departure while others played down its importance.
Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei responded to the news with a tweet: “John Bolton had promised months ago that Iran would last for another three months. We are still standing and he is gone. With the expulsion of the biggest proponent of war and economic terrorism, the White House will face fewer obstacles in understanding Iran’s realities.” He later called Bolton “the symbol of America’s hawkish policies and its animosity toward Iran”.
As a private citizen Bolton had gone as far as to advocate military action to destroy Iran’s nuclear programme. In 2015 he wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times bluntly headlined, “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” He has also argued for driving Iranian oil exports to zero and was strongly against Trump’s recent offer to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Bolton’s departure from the White House removes an obstacle to the possibility of US-Iranian nuclear talks, but the odds of such a dialogue leading anywhere concrete remain low.
Rouhani, for his part, signaled his approval of the firing by urging the US to “put warmongers aside”.
So far European leaders have remained largely circumspect about how Bolton’s departure might affect relations with the bloc. But Norbert Roettgen, chairman of the foreign policy commission of the German parliament and a senior lawmaker from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, cautiously welcomed the move, telling Reuters: “It is an opportunity, not least for the trans-Atlantic relationship.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said he had “no expectation” that relations with the US would improve anytime soon.
“We have observed several times in the past that changes in the US administration bring no improvement,” he told the Novosti news agency. “We judge on acts, not declarations or intentions. When we see progress, then we can say that something has changed.”
Bolton has championed one of Trump’s biggest foreign policy pushes, seeking to topple Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, a leftist who presides over a crumbling economy.
Officials in Venezuela, some of whom had personal beefs with Bolton, greeted the news with unfettered joy. “The historical truth has vanquished the demons of war!” Minister of Industry Tareck El Aissami, who had been singled out by Bolton for his alleged involvement in drug trafficking, crowed on Twitter.
In November, Bolton undiplomatically said during an address to veterans of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba that Venezuela was now part of a “troika of tyranny” along with Cuba and Nicaragua.
“On days like this, the Comandate would treat himself to some sweet papaya,” said another senior official, referring to the late President Hugo Chavez’s love for a traditional Venezuelan dessert and suggesting celebrations were in order.
While North Korea has thus far refrained from issuing an official response, officials have made their feelings about Bolton clear in the past, having denounced him as a “war maniac” and as “human scum”.
His own criticism of the totalitarian state goes far back. In 2003 Bolton, then a State Department official, called then leader Kim Jong Il a “tyrannical dictator”.
Brian Williams compares Corey Lewandowski’s opening statement to the North Korean news lady
MSNBC host Brian Williams on Tuesday noted the similarities between former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and North Korean news anchor Ri Chun Hee.
"Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager who is now considering a Senate run in New Hampshire, testified before the House Judiciary Committee today," Williams reported. "It is likely his North Korean anchorwoman-quality opening remarks were meant were one viewer (Donald Trump)."
Ri, who has earned the nickname "Pink Lady," is known for her enthusiastic reading of government-approved news.
Watch the video below from MSNBC.
‘Train-wreck of a witness’: Analysts nail ‘obstructive’ Corey Lewandowski for proving the Democrats’ case
Political commentator Catherine Rampell disagreed with New York Times columnist Frank Bruni that the Democrats faltered during the hearing with Corey Lewandowski Tuesday. Former state and federal prosecutor Elie Honig called Lewandowski a "train-wreck of a witness."
She explained that Democrats had an extremely low bar: they had to prove Trump obstructed justice and that Corey Lewandowski gave one of the examples of such obstructions. In that sense, Rampell said they accomplished their goals.
"I don’t think this was a great day for Corey Lewandowski," she began. "This is a guy who went on TV and announced to the world -- apparently at the same time he is also trying to fundraise for Senate -- that he lies most of the time. Except when he's under oath."
WATCH: Ana Navarro keeps shouting down Trump booster — even as CNN host cuts to commercial
President Donald Trump cheered on his top Hispanic advisor Steve Cortes, who appeared before a New Mexico audience. Trump asked Cortes which he loved more, Hispanics or America, which prompted CNN's Ana Navarro to blast the president for racism. Meanwhile, Trump's latest CNN shill cried "political correctness."
"Look, I suspect he didn't want to offend Steve Cortes and I suspect Steve Cortes was not offended," Navarro said. "But really what a stupid thing to say. Right? To somehow ask the question about whether you love the country more than you love Hispanics -- they are one and the same."