President Trump on Wednesday said he fired John Bolton because his national security adviser "made some very big mistakes" in negotiations with North Korea that "put us back."
"John is someone I actually agree with very well. He made some very big mistakes when talking about the Libyan model for Kim Jong Un," Trump told reporters at the Oval Office, after announcing that the administration would try to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. "It wasn't a good statement. You just look at what happened to Gadhafi. It wasn't a good statement. And it put us back."
Trump cited a comment from Bolton, almost a year and a half ago, described Libya as a model for North Korea's denuclearization, and Moammar Gadhafi, the longtime Libyan dictator, agreed to give up his nuclear weapons program in 2003 in exchange for lifting US economic sanctions. Gaddafi and killed by rebels, supported by NATO air strikes.
Foreign policy experts considered Bolton's statement to counter Trump's goal of reaching When Trump took his historic step across the border into North Korea, Bolton was not part of his entourage. He had been transferred to a meeting in Mongolia.
Citing administrative officials, several media this week reported that tensions between Trump and Bolton came to a head over the president's invitation to Taliban representatives for peace talks at Camp David. If it had not been interrupted at the last minute, it would probably have taken place this week on the anniversary of September. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, planned by Osama bin Laden, who was living in Afghanistan at the time under the protection of the Taliban.
White House National Security Advisor John Bolton  View Gallery
John Bolton, national security adviser, speaking during a press conference at the White House in Washington, DC, USA, Thursday, August 2, 2018 "Russia's efforts to interfere in the upcoming US election period have not yet reached the intensity of the Kremlin's campaign to disrupt the 2016 presidential election, but they are just" a keyboard click away "from a more serious attack," Director of National Intelligence "Coan" said. Photographer: Zach Gibson / Bloomberg via Getty Images
OXON HILL, MD, UNITED STATES – 2018/02/22: John Bolton, former US Ambassador to the United Nations, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) sponsored by the American Conservative Union is held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Oxon Hill. (Photo by Michael Brochstein / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 08: US Ambassador to the United States John Bolton speaks at the National Monitoring Committee to move the US Embassy in Israel to the Jerusalem Capitol Hill on November 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images)
Former US Ambassador to the United States John Bolton speaks during the US Conservative Union Conference March 6, 2014, in National Harbor, Maryland. The annual conference is a meeting of politically conservative Americans. AFP-PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / Getty Images)
NASHUA, NH – APRIL 17: Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton Speaks at First Nationwide Republican Leadership Summit April 17, 2015 in Nashua Hampshire. The summit brought together local and national Republicans and participated in all Republican candidates as well as those watching a nomination. (Photo by Darren McCollester / Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 29: Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition leadership meeting at The Venetian Las Vegas on March 29, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Republican Jewish Coalition began its annual meeting with potential Republican presidential candidates present, along with Republican superintendent Sheldon Adelson. (Photo by Ethan Miller / Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA – JANUARY 24: Former UN Ambassador John Bolton speaks with guests at the Iowa Freedom Summit on January 24, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The Summit hosts a group of potential Republican presidential candidates in 2016 to discuss core conservative principles ahead of the Iowa Caucuses in January 2016. (Photo by Scott Olson / Getty Images)
WASHINGTON – DECEMBER 4: US President George W. Bush (R) and UN Ambassador John Bolton (L) meet in the oval office at the White House December 4, 2006 in Washington, DC. Bush accepted Bolton's departure as UN ambassador when his term is up in January 2007. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX – May 03: Former United States Ambassador to the UN John Bolton speaks during 2013 NRA Annual Meeting and exhibitions at the George R. Brown Convention Center on May 3, 2013 in Houston, Texas. More than 70,000 people are expected to participate in the NRA's 3-day annual meeting with nearly 550 exhibitors, a weapons show and a political rally. The show runs from May 3-5. (Photo by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
John Bolton, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations (R), and Aaron Abramovitch, Director-General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, attend a panel during the eighth annual Herzliya Conference in Herzliya, January 22, 2008. The eight annual Herzliya Conference, titled the Balance of Israel's National Security, and coordinated by the Institute for Policy and Strategy at Herzliya's Lauder School of Government Interdisciplinary Center, started yesterday and lasts for three days. The theme for this year's conference is "Israel at 60: Tests of Endurance." AFP-PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ / AFP / Getty Images)
NEW YORK – OCTOBER 14: US Ambassador to the United States John Bolton addresses the Security Council after it voted unanimously for the resolution on sanctions against North Korea at UN headquarters on October 14, 2006 in New York City. The Council voted unanimously to approve the resolution requiring North Korea to destroy all its nuclear weapons and to ban the import and export of materials used to create weapons of mass destruction. (Photo by Stephen Chernin / Getty Images)
(FILES) A file image dated October 10, 2006 shows former US Ambassador to the United States John Bolton speaking to the media after a meeting with the five permanent members of the Security Council (UK), China , France, Russia and the United States) plus Japan, where they discussed a resolution on North Korea's nuclear situation at the UN headquarters in New York. Bolton said on January 21, 2008 that Israel may need to take military action to prevent its archbishop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. Bolton also said that further UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic will be ineffective in stopping Iran's controversial nuclear program, which Israel and the US believe is aimed at developing a bomb – a claim denied by Tehran. AFP-PHOTO / Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA / AFP / Getty Images)
UNITED NATIONS, UNITED NATIONS: John Bolton (C), United States Ambassador to the United Nations, speaks to the media October 13, 2006 before a Security Council meeting meeting on Georgia, followed by discussions on North Korea's resolution at the UN headquarters in New York. On Friday, the UN Security Council would consider a compromise proposal for a resolution that calls for extensive sanctions against North Korea during its declared nuclear test but specifically excludes the use of force. AFP-PHOTO / Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA / AFP / Getty Images)
NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 13: John Bolton, US ambassador to the United Nations, speaks to the media after a meeting with the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany regarding Iran during the French mission to the UN on November 13, 2006 in New York City. Bolton received a controversial inaugural appointment to the post of President Bush in August 2005 and was renamed last week, but would face confirmation from a new Democrat-run Senate unless voted in the current congressional election in January. The Democrats oppose the nomination. (Photo by Michael Nagle / Getty Images)
White House National Security Advisor John Bolton, US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, FBI Director Christopher Wray, arrives to attend a briefing on election security in the White House press monitoring room at White House in Washington, USA, August 2, 2018. REUTERS / Carlos Barria
US National Security Adviser John Bolton attends a news conference in Moscow, Russia June 27, 2018. REUTERS / Sergei Karpukhin
HELSINKI, FINLAND, JULY 16, 2018: US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. (C) and US National Security Advisor John Bolton (R) speak as Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump meet in the Presidential Palace. Alexei Nikolsky / Russian Presidential Press and Information Office / TASS (Photo by Alexei Nikolsky TASS via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 02: National Security Advisor John Bolton, informs media about election disruptions, in the White House, August 2 2018 in Washington, DC. The administration's highest security officer informed the media about election disruptions. (Photo by Mark Wilson / Getty Images)
National Security Advisor John Bolton (R) attends a joint press conference between US and Russian presidents following a meeting of the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on July 16, 2018. – US and Russian leaders opened a historic summit in Helsinki, with Donald Trump promising an "extraordinary relationship" and Vladimir Putin saying it was high time to root out disputes around the world. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / Getty Images)
On Wednesday, the president said that Bolton "did not agree" with other administration officials and took up Bolton's role in supporting the invasion of Iraq under President George W. Bush – an invasion that Trump has described as a mistake (although, sometimes, as a good idea).
"He was a lot out there, I can tell you, and I wanted to let them do that, and I didn't agree with that decision from the start," Trump said without explaining why he chose Bolton as his national security adviser in the first place.
"Honestly, he wanted to do things – not necessarily tougher than me," Trump said. "John is known as a tough guy. He is so tough that he got us to Iraq. It's tough. But he is someone I actually had a very good relationship with, but he did not agree with people in the administration that I consider to be very important. "
Trump added:" And you know John wasn't in line with what we were doing. And actually in some cases he thought it was too tough, what we did. Mr. Tough Guy. "
The President said that there are currently" five people whom I consider to be highly qualified "to fill the vacancy left by Bolton's departure, but he did not provide any names.
Trump added that he told Bolton that he wished him well but could not resist getting another dig at his former adviser.
"I'm sure he's going to do what he can to spin it on his way," Trump said of Bolton.
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