(CNSNews.com) - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin addressed former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s departure Tuesday during a White House press briefing.
When asked whether Bolton was fired or quit and whether he left because he disagreed with Pompeo over talks with the Taliban, the secretary said, “So last night, the president asked for Ambassador Bolton’s resignation. As I understand it, it was received this morning.”
When pressed on whether Bolton left because of a disagreement over Taliban talks, Pompeo said, “I’ll leave to the president to talk about the reasons he made the decision, but I would say this. The president’s entitled to the staff that he wants at any moment.
“This is a staff person who works directly for the president of the United States, and he should have people he trusts and values and whose efforts and judgments benefit him in delivering American foreign policy. It’s what as cabinet member Secretary Mnuchin and I try and do each and every day, and when the president makes a decision like this, he’s well within his rights to do so,” the secretary of state added.
A reporter asked Pompeo to describe the working relationship with Bolton as it was today and whether Bolton’s departure made it easier for Pompeo to do his job and for the administration to accomplish Trump’s foreign policy agenda.
“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 for lots of people with whom I interact,” Pompeo said.
“My mission set is always to make sure as I run the Department of State is to deliver America’s diplomacy and to work with the team – whether it’s the Treasury or the president’s staff – to make sure we get good outcomes. I know everyone’s talked about this for an awfully long time. There were definitely places that Ambassador Bolton and I had different views about how we should proceed,” he said.
“On the original guidance for this briefing, Bolton was on the guidance to be here, so were you two blindsided by what occurred today that he’s no longer with the administration? Was it news to you today? Cause last night, you were told he would be here today,” a reporter said.
“I’m never surprised, and I don’t mean that on just this issue, and I think Secretary Mnuchin would say the same thing. We work very closely with the president of the United States. I think we have a pretty good understanding of how he’s thinking about things. I think you’d agree, Steven, at nearly all times. So our mission says not to talk about these inner workings and the palace intrigue that I know you are so curious about, but rather to talk about the things that matter to American foreign policy,” Pompeo said.
Fox News White House Correspondent John Roberts asked Bolton’s foreign policy is out of alignment with the president’s philosophy as the White House said.
“I’ll leave that to the White House to talk about other than to say I think President Trump, I watched his campaign. I’ve now worked with him first as CIA director and now as secretary of State. Someone asked would the policy be different absent any individual being here. These have been the president’s policies. We give him our best wisdom. We share with him our understanding,” Pompeo said.
“When I was intelligence director, we did our best to make sure he had the facts and data available so we could make good decisions, but 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,” he said.
Mnuchin said Trumps’s view on the Iraq War was “very different” from Bolton’s view.
“The president’s made this clear,” the Treasury secretary said.