When Donald Trump fired his National Security Adviser John Bolton yesterday, it wasn’t a surprise. Bolton and Mike Pence had leaked to the media that they opposed Trump’s Camp David Taliban meeting, and since Trump can’t fire Pence, he fired Bolton instead. Now it turns out Trump has thought of some other people he wants to fire.
Although the embarrassing Taliban leak was the last straw, it turns out Donald Trump has apparently been wanting to get rid of John Bolton for awhile now – along with a number of other people. He’s been calling up his former National Security Adviser HR McMaster (a guy he also fired via tweet) and venting about his list of people he’d like to dump before the end of the year. According to NBC, Trump is hoping to rid himself of these people before the election season gets going, for fear that firing them during the election would look bad.
The kicker is that NBC doesn’t appear to know who specifically is on the list of people who are to be fired. We have no idea who he’s targeting. But it’s worth pointing out that at this point there are very few longtime people left in his White House (for instance, Stephen Miller and Kellyanne Conway). For all we know he could be talking about dumping cabinet members, but he’s had so much turnover there, we’re not sure who’s left to dump (Wilbur Ross comes to mind, after his census question failure).
The escalating antics between Donald Trump and Mike Pence, which have spilled over into public view this past week, leave us increasingly wondering if Pence is Trump’s real target for ouster. The trouble is that Trump can’t fire Pence during the term; he can only try to pressure and/or humiliate him into resigning. That’s highly unlikely to work. The larger question is whether Trump can convince the GOP to let him replace Pence on the 2020 ticket. In any case, now we know that Trump is targeting a number of his own people for ouster over the next few months. The last thing he needs is even more instability, but he’s clearly past the point of being willing/able to do what’s best for himself.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report