Nets Fear ‘Controversial’ Bolton Joining Trump’s ‘Very Hardline’ National Security Team

Friday’s network morning shows were horrified to report that President Trump had decided to replace General H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser with former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton. Journalists on the NBC, ABC, and CBS broadcasts feared that the “controversial” pick would only add to Trump’s “very hardline” national security team.  

“West Wing turmoil. In yet another stunning shakeup, President Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster out. Replaced by controversial former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton,” co-host Hoda Kotb proclaimed at the top of NBC’s Today show. Moments later, correspondent Peter Alexander joined in the panic: “The President building a radically more aggressive foreign policy team.”

 

 

The reporter further bemoaned the move:

John Bolton in, H.R. McMaster out. The hardline former U.N. Ambassador replacing the decorated Army general as National Security Adviser....Just last month, Bolton, a foreign policy hawk, sent this warning shot, an op-ed, “The Legal Case for Striking North Korea First.” Unlike McMaster, who cautioned against tearing up the Iran nuclear deal, Bolton’s repeatedly advocated bombing Iran.

After briefly noting Republicans praising the choice of Bolton, Alexander quickly turned to a far-left member of Congress to condemn the selection: “California Democrat Barbara Lee blasted Bolton as ‘one of the most extreme pro-war members of the Bush administration.’ Adding, ‘Just imagine what havoc he could wreak whispering in Donald Trump’s ear.’”

Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against authorization for the war on terror, just days after the September 11th attacks in 2001. In 2015, the liberal lawmaker bizarrely claimed that climate change would force women into prostitution. This was the voice NBC decided to promote.

“National Security Adviser, General H.R. McMaster, he’s out, announced in a tweet from the President. Replaced by the controversial John Bolton,” fretted World News Tonight anchor David Muir while filling in for George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s Good Morning America.

White House Correspondent Jon Karl added to the hand-wringing: “And this brings in a national security team that is very hardline. Bolton himself has advocated getting out of the Iran deal. And on North Korea, David, he has said that a preemptive military strike against North Korea would be perfectly legitimate.”

Sounding the alarm on CBS This Morning, co-host John Dickerson declared: “Bolton is known for advocating hardline positions on Iran and North Korea. His appointment is raising concern about an increased possibility of military conflict in different global crises.” Correspondent Chip Reid eagerly piled on: “He is a divisive foreign policy figure. And as you mentioned, he has advocated use of force against both Iran and North Korea and his selection signals a hawkish turn for President Trump.”

“Bolton has promoted the use of force in both Iran and North Korea, writing last month that it was perfectly legitimate to strike North Korea and in 2015 recommending the U.S. bomb Iran,” Reid warned.

Wrapping up his piece on Bolton, the reporter ranted:

During the last Bush administration members of both parties in the Senate tried to block his appointment as U.N. Ambassador, but his new job as National Security Adviser doesn't require Senate confirmation. So, you have got Bolton coming in, you have also got Mike Pompeo, the hawkish CIA director who's going to be Secretary of State. Some analysts say the only person left at the top of the President's foreign policy team who's a voice of moderation is Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

In a later segment, Face the Nation moderator Margaret Brennan agreed with Reid’s dour assessment: “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has to be feeling very alone right now. He's one of the lone moderates left at the table in the National Security Council session.” In order to supposedly provide perspective on how extreme the rest of Trump’s advisers were, the anchor claimed: “And that saying a lot because if you remember, it was Mattis who was pushed out of the Obama administration because they thought he was too hard-lined on Iran.”

Apparently she never considered the possibility that the Obama administration was actually far too soft on Iran.

When Barack Obama cozied up to dictators in Cuba and Iran, the liberal media hailed him as a hero. When Trump hires people who instead want to stand up to such authoritarian regimes, the press portray them as dangerous warmongers.

Here is a full transcript of the report on NBC’s Today:

7:02 AM ET

(...)

PETER ALEXANDER: It’s been known as farewell Friday around here, but the President got a jump on the weekend, announcing his third National Security Adviser, John Bolton, who will begin in April. You remember, just a week ago, the White House publicly shot down reports that H.R. McMaster was on his way out, but on Thursday, McMaster was shown the door. The President building a radically more aggressive foreign policy team.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: National Security Shift; Bolton In, McMaster Out in Latest WH Shake-Up]

John Bolton in, H.R. McMaster out. The hardline former U.N. Ambassador replacing the decorated Army general as National Security Adviser. Speaking out overnight about how the President’s appointment by tweet even caught him by surprise.

JOHN BOLTON: I didn’t really expect an announcement.

ALEXANDER: White House officials say President Trump wanted to fill out his national security team before his sit-down with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Just last month, Bolton, a foreign policy hawk, sent this warning shot, an op-ed, “The Legal Case for Striking North Korea First.” Unlike McMaster, who cautioned against tearing up the Iran nuclear deal, Bolton’s repeatedly advocated bombing Iran.

While leading Republicans, like Lindsey Graham, said, “President Trump could not have made a better choice,” California Democrat Barbara Lee blasted Bolton as “one of the most extreme pro-war members of the Bush administration.” Adding, “Just imagine what havoc he could wreak whispering in Donald Trump’s ear.”

As a candidate, Mr. Trump praised Bolton, a Fox News contributor, as one of the military advisers he relies on from TV.

DONALD TRUMP: I like Bolton. I think he’s, you know, a tough cookie, knows what he’s talking about.

ALEXANDER: But as President, he initially passed on Bolton because with that mustache he didn’t look the part, Trump aide Steve Bannon told author Michael Wolff.

Late Thursday, Bolton criticized the recent leak that his new boss ignored advice not to congratulate Vladimir Putin.

BOLTON: You cannot expect other foreign leaders to be candid and open in their conversations with the President if some munchkin in the executive branch decides they’re gonna leak the talking points.

ALEXANDER: That was John Bolton overnight.

(...)

Here is a full transcript of the report on ABC’s GMA:

7:07 AM ET

DAVID MUIR: Robin, we’re gonna turn now to the breaking news overnight involving President Trump and the White House. Two big names now out. First, the President’s lead personal attorney on the Russia investigation, John Dowd, suddenly resigning. But then the major shake-up last night involving his National Security Adviser, General H.R. McMaster, he’s out, announced in a tweet from the President. Replaced by the controversial John Bolton.

And if you’re keeping score at home this morning, first it was National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn, he lasted 24 days, pleading guilty, now cooperating with Robert Mueller. Then General H.R. McMaster, and we all remember the President at the time saying, “He’s a man of tremendous talent, tremendous experience. That’s what he said right there on the couch with him. And now comes John Bolton, former U.N. Ambassador and currently a Fox News contributor.

So I want to bring in our Chief White House Correspondent Jon Karl this morning. Because Jon, you and I were on the air last night as this was all going down. So was John Bolton himself. He was on Fox News and even he seemed surprised by the timing. Take a listen.

MARTHA MACCALLUM: Your reaction to your new job?

JOHN BOLTON: Well, I think I still am a Fox News contributor.

MACCALLUM: No, you’re not, apparently.

BOLTON: I didn’t – well, I haven’t started there yet, so that demonstrates, I think, the sort of limbo that I’m in because I didn’t really expect an announcement this afternoon.

MUIR: Jon, you don’t need me to tell you, there are a lot of hot spots right now. In particular, North Korea, this face-to-face coming with Kim Jong-un, the timing’s not great here. What’s going on?  

KARL: Well, a lot of upheaval. As you point out, the third National Security Adviser in just 14 months, David. And this brings in a national security team that is very hardline. Bolton himself has advocated getting out of the Iran deal. And on North Korea, David, he has said that a preemptive military strike against North Korea would be perfectly legitimate.

MUIR: You know, Jon, the President obviously just fired his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as well, who gave his farewell just yesterday. So out with the Secretary of State, out with the National Security Adviser, and as you point out, with Iran, with North Korea, the list goes on, is there any concern inside the West Wing about the message this is sending to the rest of the world?

KARL: Well, there’s always concern in the West Wing. But I’ve got to tell you, what this underscores is that President Trump is taking control. He is really acting as his own top diplomat. He certainly did in going forward with plans on this North Korea talks. He is also acting as his own National Security Adviser. He is the President, he is the National Security Adviser, he is the Secretary of State. You could go on and on, even his top lawyer.

MUIR: Alright, Jon, we’ll see you later tonight.

Here is a full transcript of the report on CBS This Morning:

7:07 AM ET

JOHN DICKERSON: New turnover at the White House could signal a major shift in American  foreign policy. President Trump tapped U.N. Ambassador John Bolton to be his third National Security Adviser yesterday. He replaces H.R. McMaster who took over after Michael Flynn was fired. Bolton is known for advocating hard-line positions on Iran and North Korea. His appointment is raising concern about an increased possibility of military conflict in different global crises. Chip Reid is at the White House. Chip, good morning.

CHIP REID: Well, good morning. John Bolton has served three Republican presidents, most recently George W. Bush. He is a divisive foreign policy figure. And as you mentioned, he has advocated use of force against both Iran and North Korea and his selection signals a hawkish turn for President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP: There will always be change.

REID: The reshaping of the President's White House team continued, Thursday when Mr. Trump replaced National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, with who he never clicked personally, with John Bolton, a foreign policy hawk whose views more closely mirror his own. The Bolton for McMaster swap had been rumored for weeks, yet even after Bolton was spotted at the White House yesterday, advisers denied the change was afoot.

JOHN BOLTON: It’s still sinking in.

REID: The President's announcement left even Bolton surprised. He appeared on Fox News less than an hour after the tweet.

BOLTON: I didn't really expect an announcement this afternoon.

REID: Bolton has promoted the use of force in both Iran and North Korea, writing last month that it was perfectly legitimate to strike North Korea and in 2015 recommending the U.S. bomb Iran.

DONALD TRUMP: The Iran deal is coming up.

REID: In May, the President will decide whether to remain in the Iran nuclear deal. Bolton, a fierce opponent of the accord, is expected to argue for withdrawal.

BOLTON: Decertify and exit the deal.

REID: And there is the pending summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

TRUMP: I think they want to make peace. I think it's time.

REID: Bolton's new role could scramble the White House’s preparations for the North Korean meeting.

BOLTON: Talking to the North Koreans is a waste of time.

REID: There was also turnover on the President’s legal team Thursday as the lead lawyer dealing with special counsel Robert Mueller’s special investigation, John Dowd, resigned. Dowd was squeezed out when the President hired former U.S. attorney Joe diGenova earlier this week. Sources say Dowd was also very much opposed with the President doing an interview with Mueller. Something Mr. Trump said yesterday he would like to do.

REPORTER: Mr. President, would you like to testify before Special Counsel Robert Mueller, sir?

TRUMP: Thank you. I would like to.

REID: During the last Bush administration members of both parties in the Senate tried to block his appointment as U.N. Ambassador, but his new job as National Security Adviser doesn't require Senate confirmation. So, you have got Bolton coming in, you have also got Mike Pompeo, the hawkish CIA director who's going to be Secretary of State. Some analysts say the only person left at the top of the President's foreign policy team who's a voice of moderation is Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

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