The Slatest

The President and His Latest Ex–National Security Adviser Are Having a “You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit” Fight

Having failed to bomb Iran, John Bolton settles for a social media flame war with Donald Trump.

Bolton, seated behind Trump, frowns in his direction.
John Bolton and Donald Trump at the White House in February.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On Sunday, the New York Times reported that President Donald Trump had ignored the advice of national security adviser John Bolton, among others, in planning a now-scuttled meeting with representatives of the Taliban at Camp David. Trump and Bolton had also reportedly disagreed about how to handle North Korea (Bolton wanted more belligerence; Trump likes doing photo-ops with Kim Jong-un) and Iran (Bolton seems to have been rooting actively for an Iran-U.S. war for years; Trump is unenthused about getting into a third overseas quagmire). Essentially, Trump hired Bolton because he’d seen him running down Obama on Fox News, only to find out—as everyone else had already known—that running down Obama was probably the only thing the two of them agreed on.

On Tuesday, Trump announced on Twitter that he’d asked Bolton to resign.

But there’s a twist! According to Bolton, Trump did not, in fact, ask him to resign but instead intentionally avoided asking him face-to-face, only to claim later that he’d done so.

Trump does have a history of being too chicken to fire people in person. He dismissed Rex Tillerson and Reince Priebus on Twitter, reportedly got John Kelly to can Omarosa Manigault Newman, Steve Bannon, and Anthony Scaramucci, and obstruction-of-justice’d James Comey by having his bodyguard take a letter to the FBI building. (Comey wasn’t even there at the time.)

After Bolton’s tweet, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham gave the Daily Beast her own variation on Trump’s account:

“Last night, Potus said he wanted Bolton’s resignation on his desk tomorrow AM. Bolton delivered it. Simply put, many of Bolton’s policy priorities did not align w POTUS.”

To which Bolton responded, via text, “press secretary statement is flatly incorrect.”

In any case, whoever replaces Bolton will become the fourth national security adviser Trump has had in less than three years in office.