When Donald Trump announced this morning that he was forcing National Security Adviser John Bolton to resign, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. In fact, if you’ve been reading Palmer Report, it didn’t come as much of a surprise, because a veritable flame war has been erupting between Trump and Mike Pence for the past several days, and Bolton has been caught right in the middle of it.
First came reports late last week that Donald Trump and Mike Pence have spent the past year feuding over Pence’s future political ambitions. This surfaced, incidentally, on the same day we learned that Pence had stayed at a Trump resort on the taxpayer dime, which in turn blew the lid off Trump’s larger long-running resort grift. Then Trump publicly laid the blame for the scandal at Pence’s feet. Then Trump’s Taliban Camp David meeting blew up in his face. Then came the leak to CNN yesterday that Pence and John Bolton had tried to talk Trump out of the meeting.
As Palmer Report explained yesterday, this leak could only have come from Pence and Bolton, or else it wouldn’t have been considered credible enough to have gotten printed. Donald Trump surely knew this when he saw it. He understood that Pence and Bolton were trying to protect their own reputations by hanging him out to dry on the failed Taliban stunt. Trump can’t fire Pence – at least not in the middle of the term – so he fired Bolton.
Make no mistake about what’s going on here. It’s easy to see from a mile away that Donald Trump has declared war on Mike Pence, and his ouster of John Bolton – a Pence ally – is part of it. In fact it’s fair to argue that it was Pence who declared war first, when he and Bolton leaked their Taliban dissent. This is going to get uglier going forward. Pence is the one person Trump can’t actually fire. But he can humiliate Pence from now through the election, and he can try to dump Pence from the ticket if the GOP will let him. Buckle up.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report