In April 2018, two months before his April 2018 appointment as National Security Advisor, John Bolton penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing for a preemptive strike against North Korea. Bolton, known as one of the Republican Party’s largest proponents for the use of aggressive force, called the threat of attack from North Korea “imminent” and advocated to respond “by striking first.”
According to a profile published by The New Yorker on Monday, his path to the Trump administration was far from easy. The “absolutist view” he developed while serving under the previous two Republican presidencies made him unpopular among his more moderate peers in the State Department.
And in 2017, the former UN Secretary for George W. Bush fought for the Secretary of State bid under Trump. But according to one former White House official, “Trump had big reservations” about appointing Bolton.
“John wants to bomb everyone,” the official said.
Following the resignation of former NSA Michael Flynn in 2017, Bolton too tried to win Trump’s favor for the empty seat. But only after Flynn was succeeded by H. R. McMaster, who resigned in April 2018, did Bolton get the job.
“To get the job, Bolton had to cut his balls off and put them on Trump’s desk,” said a source close to Bolton. “The trouble for Bolton is, Trump does not want war. He does not want to launch military operations.”
Another former aide echoed the consensus that there is a tension between Trump and Bolton’s respective ideologies. “John is thinking, ‘To the extent I can modify or mollify the President’s actions, I will,’” he said. “He is truly a patriot. But I wonder how he goes into work every day, because deep in his heart he believes the President is a moron.”