ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
79°
Mostly Cloudy
H 88° L 77°
  • cloudy-day
    79°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Cloudy. H 88° L 77°
  • cloudy-day
    86°
    Afternoon
    Mostly Cloudy. H 88° L 77°
  • cloudy-day
    84°
    Evening
    Partly Cloudy. H 88° L 77°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

National Govt & Politics
Inside Bolton's exit: Mongolia, a mustache, a tweet
Close

Inside Bolton's exit: Mongolia, a mustache, a tweet

Inside Bolton's exit: Mongolia, a mustache, a tweet
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh
FILE - In this April 18, 2018 file photo, National security adviser John Bolton, left, listens to President Donald Trump, far right, speak during a working lunch with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump' s private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla. Also at the meeting are from left, White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow, third left, and Vice President Mike Pence, second left. Trump has fired national security adviser John Bolton. Trump tweeted Tuesday that he told Bolton Monday night that his services were no longer needed at the White House. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Inside Bolton's exit: Mongolia, a mustache, a tweet

John Bolton was in Mongolia.

More than 1,200 miles (1,930 kilometers) away, President Donald Trump orchestrated an image for the world's front pages by becoming the first U.S. president to set foot in North Korea, shaking hands with Kim Jong Un on the north side of the demilitarized zone.

The distance was telling.

Bolton, a longtime critic of diplomacy with North Korea, had scheduled his foray to Mongolia weeks before Trump's impromptu invitation to meet Kim. But the national security adviser's isolation at such a high-profile moment underscored the growing disconnect between the two men.

Their repeated clashes on policy and style reached an exclamation point Tuesday when Trump ousted Bolton with a tweet.

This account of how their relationship unraveled is based on interviews with current and former administration officials and Republicans close to the White House. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations.

It was a marriage that was never going to last: Trump and Bolton rarely saw eye to eye on global hotspots. The national security adviser held far more hawkish views than the "America first" president on matters like Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan.

"John Bolton is absolutely a hawk," Trump told NBC in June. "If it was up to him, he'd take on the whole world at one time, OK? But that doesn't matter because I want both sides."

Trump does value disagreement and jockeying among his staff. But he came to believe that Bolton's presence spooked foreign leaders. And he eventually grew weary of the national security adviser's bureaucratic knife-fighting.

By the spring, Bolton found himself cut out of important White House meetings and the president's perceived diplomatic triumphs, including the historic visit to North Korea.

As Trump met with Kim, Bolton was photographed shaking hands with Mongolia's secretary of state — an image that decidedly did not lead cable news.

While Trump's visit to Kim was a spectacle largely of his own making, Bolton's more modest outreach to Mongolia was similarly his own grand design, meant to check Russian and Chinese influence in central Asia.

The two trips encapsulated their opposing world views.

In the hours before Bolton left Trump in Seoul to head for Ulaanbaatar, Bolton was in a meeting with the president in which Trump paid tribute to the officials with him — or at least tried to.

"And Secretary of State Pompeo is here," Trump said. "Mike Bolton — John Bolton — is here."

Reporters spotted Bolton glowering at the slight. It would not be the last.

___

Trump never liked Bolton's mustache.

The president has spent a career fixed on image, prizing striking looks and frequently boasting about family members and Cabinet officials who look like they "stepped out of central casting."

Bolton's bushy mustache simply didn't fit the part.

Bolton, a former ambassador to the United Nations and then a fixture on Fox News as a national security commentator, nearly entered the 2016 presidential campaign himself to push his hard-nosed foreign policy.

His neoconservative credentials never meshed with the isolationist vibe of Trump's campaign but, during the presidential transition, there was Bolton striding through the gilded lobby of Trump Tower to meet with the president-elect.

Bolton didn't get a job just then.

Trump later told confidants that the hawk's trademark mustache would never be a fit in his administration. But Trump kept an admiring eye on Bolton's frequent cable TV appearances, during which he often defended the policies of the president even when they ran counter to what he had preached for decades.

Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned barely a month into the job and was soon charged with lying to the FBI. His second, H.R. McMaster, grated on Trump's nerves with his long-winded, detail-oriented presentations.

Bolton became the unlikely choice to be Trump's third, thanks largely to the strength of his television appearances.

But while TV helped Bolton get the job, it also helped him lose it.

As pressure mounted on the White House this summer amid signs of an economic slowdown and growing global discord, Trump has increasingly prioritized aides who are willing to defend him on television.

Bolton was tentatively booked to appear on a pair of Sunday talk shows in late August but backed out, saying he was not comfortable defending some of the administration's plans. That drew the president's ire, according to a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the aide was not authorized to discuss private conversations.

Trump was heard complaining about the cancellations days later.

___

The president debated firing Bolton for weeks, listening to the advice of outside allies like Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

With time, he grew increasingly agitated with the national security adviser, who had become a vocal internal critic of potential talks between Trump and leaders of Iran and, separately, Afghanistan's Taliban.

There were other irritants.

Bolton broke with Trump in loudly condemning Russia's global aggressions. And last year he masterminded a quiet campaign inside the administration and with allies abroad to persuade Trump to keep U.S. forces in Syria to counter the remnants of the Islamic State and Iranian influence in the region.

The two men spoke on the phone Monday night and it grew heated, as it often did in the Oval Office. Arguing over Afghanistan, the president was angered by Bolton's opposition to the president's scuttled plan to host Taliban leaders at Camp David to broker a peace deal.

The two men differ over what happened next.

Trump tweeted Tuesday that he "informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House."

"I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions," Trump continued, adding Bolton to a long list of aides fired via tweet.

But this time, there was return fire just a few minutes later.

"I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, 'Let's talk about it tomorrow,'" Bolton retorted via tweet.

Bolton's departure was announced barely 90 minutes before he was to hold a briefing at the White House with Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, both of whom had repeatedly clashed with the national security adviser. The briefing went ahead anyway.

"There were definitely places where Ambassador Bolton and I had differing views about how to proceed," Pompeo allowed.

A widely circulated photo from the briefing appeared to sum up the mood surrounding Bolton's exit: Pompeo and Mnuchin, flanking the podium, smiling broadly.

___

West Wing hallways can feel surprisingly narrow, especially when crammed with reporters.

In the moments after Bolton's firing, nearly a dozen journalists were clumped together outside press secretary Stephanie Grisham's office.

A Bolton ally, who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity, approached the group and declared: "I'm going to say one thing, which is: Since Ambassador Bolton has been national security adviser 17 months — 17 months today, actually — there have been no bad deals — Iran, North Korea, Syria, Afghanistan, China — the list goes on. ... Add Russia. No bad deals."

Just then, Grisham arrived and eyed the crowd, sarcastically noting that the spin session was taking place "right outside my office."

Asked about the "bad deals" comment, Grisham was dismissive.

"I don't know what that means," she said, then smiled and added, "Sounds like somebody just trying to protect him."

___

Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire , Miller at http://twitter.com/@zekejmiller and Riechmann at http://twitter.com/@debriechmann

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • The State Attorney's Office says a custodian at Clay High School in Green Cove Springs has been arrested on a criminal complaint charging him with attempted production of child pornography, after investigators say he filmed students in the girls' locker room.  According to the criminal complaint, 42-year-old Jason Goff is accused of filming students in the locker room sometime between mid to late August.  Investigators say two students reported finding a possible camera in a locked locker on August 22nd. When school administrators opened it up, they reported finding a cellphone that had been taped to the inside wall with the camera lens pointing out through a hole, aimed at the changing area.  The criminal complaint says a forensic review of the phone turned up images and videos of high school girls changing. Investigators says at the end of one of videos, the phone camera pans down to show Goff's photo ID badge. Additionally, the complaint says the phone also contained 'selfie' photos of Goff.  If ultimately convicted, Goff faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 15 years and up to 30 years in federal prison and a potential life term of supervise release.
  • Beginning Monday, NAS Jacksonville is warning neighbors there will likely be an increase in aircraft activity and noise due to training operations. NAS Jax says carrier-based jet fighters and other types of aircraft will be conducting training out of the base from September 15 through September 25. We're told this training is in support of aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) operations.  If you have any noise complaints, you can send them to NASJAX_NOISE_COMPLAINTS@NAVY.MIL.
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says a 22-year-old suspect is being charged with murder, after police say he was responsible for a carjacking on the Southside that ended with the victim dying.  According to police, a witness spotted the suspect, identified by JSO as Johnathan Green, jump into a victim's vehicle in a parking lot off of Beach Boulevard, near Southside Boulevard, just after 7:00 AM on August 23rd.  Police say the witness told them that the victim then jumped into the passenger seat and was hanging partially outside of the vehicle, when Green allegedly accelerated, causing the victim to be thrown out of the truck. JSO says that victim was taken to the hospital, but later died from his injuries on August 29th.  As for Green, police say he was arrested in the area on August 23rd and was charged at that time with carjacking and giving a false name to law enforcement. However, with the victim's death, we're told Green is also now being charged with murder/during certain felonies.
  • A federal judge sentenced actress Felicity Huffman to 14 days in prison on Friday after she admitted earlier this year to paying an admissions consultant to falsify her eldest daughter's college entrance exam. >> Read more trending news  Huffman, 56, pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Prosecutors said she paid admissions consultant William 'Rick' Singer $15,000, which she disguised as a charitable donation, to rig her daughter's SAT score. Authorities said her daughter was unaware of the arrangement. Update 3:55 p.m. EDT Sept. 13: Prosecutors said Huffman has been ordered to self-report to a Bureau of Prisons facility Oct. 25 to begin her 14-day prison sentence. The facility was not immediately chosen. Her attorney asked U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani to allow her to report to the facility in Dublin, California, which is closest to her home, WFXT reported. Update 3:35 p.m. EDT Sept. 13: U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani sentenced Huffman to serve 14 days in jail and 250 hours of community service after she pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges leveled at her as part of a probe into a nationwide college admissions bribery scheme. In a statement read Friday in court, Huffman apologized to college officials and other students who were affected by her decision to participate in the bribery scheme. She said she felt ashamed of her choice. Prosecutors said prison time would deter others from committing similar crimes and noted that Huffman's reputation would likely recover. Prosecutors said she signed a movie deal with Netflix while awaiting sentencing, according to WFXT. Attorneys for Huffman argued against jail time for the 'Desperate Housewives' actress, pointing to her remorse and her lack of a previous criminal record, among other factors. Update 2:30 p.m. EDT Sept. 13: Huffman appeared in a courtroom on the third floor of the federal courthouse in Boston on Friday for a sentencing hearing. Her husband, actor William H. Macy, was also in the courthouse, according to WFXT. He has not been charged as part of the case. Update 2 p.m. EDT Sept. 13: Huffman arrived at the federal courthouse in Boston on Friday afternoon ahead of her scheduled sentencing hearing. Original report: Prosecutors have asked U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani to sentence the 'Desperate Housewives' actress to one month in prison and supervised release, citing her deliberate and repeated deception of her daughter's high school, the college entrance exam system and college administrators. They have also asked she be fined $20,000. 'Her efforts weren't driven by need or desperation, but by a sense of entitlement, or at least moral cluelessness, facilitated by wealth and insularity,' prosecutors said last week in a sentencing memo filed in court. Authorities said Huffman coordinated with Singer to convince test administrators to give her daughter extended time to take the SAT in 2017, citing a 'learning difference.' She arranged to have her daughter take the test at a center affiliated with Singer, where her answers were altered to boost her score by about 400 points, prosecutors said. 'She could buy her daughter every conceivable legitimate advantage, introduce her to any number of useful personal connections, and give her a profound leg up on the competition simply because she would be applying to college as the daughter of a movie star,' prosecutors said in the sentencing memo. 'But Huffman opted instead to use her daughter's legitimate learning differences in service of a fraud on the system, one that Huffman knew, by definition, would harm some other student who would be denied admission because Huffman's daughter was admitted in his or her place, under false pretenses.' Attorneys for Huffman have asked Talwani to sentence her to one year of probation, 250 hours of community service and a $20,000 fine, calling the incident out of character and noting her remorse for her part in the admissions scheme. 'In my desperation to be a good mother I talked myself into believing that all I was doing was giving my daughter a fair shot,' Huffman wrote in a letter to the court filed last week. 'I honestly didn't and don't care about my daughter going to a prestigious college. I just wanted to give her a shot at being considered for a program where her acting talent would be the deciding factor. That sounds hollow now, but, in my mind, I knew that her success or failure in theater or film wouldn't depend on her math skills. I didn't want my daughter to be prevented from getting a shot at auditioning doing what she loves because she can't do math.' Huffman is scheduled to appear Friday afternoon in the federal courthouse in Boston. Huffman was one of more than 50 people, including 34 parents, to be charged earlier this year with participating in the large-scale admissions scheme. Prosecutors said the parents involved paid Singer to bribe college coaches and rig test scores to get their children into elite universities. The scandal also led to the arrests of “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, both of whom are fighting the charges. The amount Huffman paid is relatively low compared to other bribes alleged in the scheme. Some parents are accused of paying up to $500,000 to get their children into elite schools by having them labeled as recruited athletes for sports they didn't even play. Authorities say it's the biggest college admissions case ever prosecuted by the Justice Department, with a total of 51 people charged. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Latest News Videos