After President Donald Trump abruptly fired John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he wasn’t caught off guard by the ouster, even though the former national security adviser was set to join him at a news conference Tuesday.
“Bolton was on the guidance to be here,” Playboy magazine’s senior White House correspondent, Brian Karem, said during the briefing, addressing both Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was also present. “So, were you two blindsided by what occurred today, that he’s no longer with the administration? Was it news to you today?”
“I’m never surprised,” Pompeo shot back, prompting laughter from the room. “And I don’t mean that on just this issue. And I think Secretary Mnuchin would say the same thing.”
Pompeo made it clear he wasn’t joking, attempting to assure reporters he was well aware of Bolton’s impending departure amid the remarkably high turnover rate within the Cabinet. Many of the staffing shakeups have occurred without apparent warning.
“We work very closely with the president of the United States,” Pompeo said. “I think we have a pretty good understanding of how he’s thinking about things, I think you’d agree, Steven, at nearly all times. Our mission is not to talk about these inner workings and the palace intrigue that I know you are so curious about, but rather to talk about the things that matter to American foreign policy.”
On Tuesday morning, Trump announced Bolton’s exit in a pair of tweets, noting that he had requested that Bolton step down.
“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,” he wrote. “I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore ... I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning.”