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

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

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.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend