Trouble on the way

I see a bad moon rising.

President Trump said Thursday that he was naming former ambassador John Bolton, a Fox News commentator and conservative firebrand, as his new national security adviser, replacing Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.

The appointment of Bolton, which doesn’t require Senate confirmation, could lead to dramatic changes in the administration’s approach to crises around the world.

His appointment is certain to scramble the White House’s preparations for a proposed summit by the end of May between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Bolton is a fierce North Korea hawk who, in his prolific writings and television commentary, has said that preemptive war would likely be the only way to stop North Korea from obtaining the capability to attack the United States with a nuclear missile.

Bolton has touted “the legal case for striking North Korea first” in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal. In a subsequent interview with Breitbart News, Bolton warned that the North was on the cusp of being able to strike the continental United States and raised the specter of Pyongyang selling nuclear devices to other hostile actors such as Iran, the Islamic State or al-Qaeda.

“We have to ask ourselves whether we’re prepared to take preemptive action, or live in a world where North Korea — and a lot of other people — have nuclear weapons,” he said.

We’re doomed.

During his brief run at the U.N., Bolton was often at odds with then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She told colleagues that Bolton undermined her and went behind her back to Cheney, his old friend and patron.

Those old grievances resurfaced before Trump took office, when as president-elect he considered selecting Bolton as deputy secretary of state. That job would have been subject to Senate confirmation, and opposition to the potential choice was swift and bipartisan. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) vowed to block it, and the nomination never materialized.

Really, really doomed.

White House officials said that Trump made the final offer to Bolton on Thursday afternoon and then called McMaster a few minutes later and thanked him for his service.

A senior White House official said that Trump did not want to embarrass McMaster publicly as he had done with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who learned of his dismissal through a presidential tweet.

Oh, iddn that sweet. This one time he decided not to insult someone who worked in his administration.

His struggles with Trump were often personal. When the president would receive his morning schedule and see that he was expected to spend 30 minutes or longer with McMaster outside of his intelligence briefing, Trump would complain and ask aides to cut it back, according to two people familiar with the matter, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

At times, Trump would tell McMaster that he understood an issue largely to make him stop talking, these people said. “I get it, general, I get it,” Trump would say, according to two people who were present at the time.

Some days, Trump would tell his staff that he did not want to see McMaster at all, one of these people said.

Of course, he didn’t get it.

But it doesn’t matter; we’re doomed.

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