During his year and a half at the White House, Bolton had particular success in shaping the administration’s policies towards the United Nations and other international organisations, such as the International Criminal Court, as well as advocating for hardline measures on Venezuela and Cuba.
Bolton had launched a broadside campaign against the ICC that resulted in the US revoking the visa of the court’s chief prosecutor after she sought permission to open an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by US troops and others in Afghanistan.
Here are other key moments of the Bolton tenure:
March 22, 2018: Trump announced he will appoint former UN Ambassador John Bolton as national security adviser, the third person to hold the position in just over a year. Bolton replaced HR McMaster, who was brought in after Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was dismissed after less than a month in office.
May 8, 2018: Trump announced the withdrawal from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, a position advocated by Bolton. The deal had been negotiated by the Obama administration to limit Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for easing sanctions, and some in the administration favoured staying in the agreement.
November 15, 2018: Bolton ally and deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel was forced out after First Lady Melania Trump’s office issued a public statement calling for her removal.
January 9, 2019: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey refused to meet Bolton during his visit to Turkey to discuss US plans to withdraw troops from Syria. The Turkish president was angered after Bolton called for Turkish security assurances for the US-backed Kurdish forces as a condition for the withdrawal.
May 26, 2019: Trump seemed to undercut Bolton’s public condemnation of missile tests by North Korea. “North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me,” Trump tweeted. “Some” of his “people” appeared to include Bolton, who had told reporters just hours earlier that North Korean missile tests violated UN Security Council resolutions.
June 21, 2019: Trump said he authorised but then called off a military attack against Iran in retaliation for Iran’s downing of an American drone aircraft. Bolton had supported carrying out the US attack.
June 30, 2019: Bolton visited Mongolia while Trump went to the Korean Demilitarized Zone for an historic handshake with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, suggesting a growing divide between Bolton and Trump.
September 7, 2019: Trump cancelled what he called a secret meeting at Camp David with Taliban and Afghan leaders, following a Taliban bombing in Kabul that killed 12 people, including one American soldier. Trump defended the idea of bringing the Taliban to the presidential retreat in search of peace, a move that Bolton had argued against.
September 10, 2019: Bolton submitted his resignation after it was requested by Trump. The two men offer opposing accounts on the departure. Trump said Bolton was fired, while Bolton said he resigned.
John Bolton’s tenure as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser included disagreements on several key policy issues, including relations with Iran and North Korea. During his year and a half at the White House, Bolton had particular success in shaping the administration’s policies towards the United Nations and other international organisations, such as the International Criminal Court, as well as advocating for hardline measures on Venezuela and Cuba.