John Bolton, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, said in his op-ed that “staff changes” now prevent him from seeing the president. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images.
Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton once enjoyed regular access to President Donald Trump, but can no longer get a hearing with him. “I requested a meeting with him and I was turned down,” Bolton told POLITICO, though he declined to offer further details.
Bolton went public with his complaint in an op-ed published Monday in National Review in which he laid out a blueprint to exit the Iran nuclear deal because he couldn’t deliver it to the president himself.
Story Continued Below
Bolton was considered for secretary of state and national security adviser during the presidential transition last winter, and until recently served as an informal adviser to the administration on national security issues.
Bolton said in his op-ed that “staff changes” now prevent him from seeing the president. He wrote that although former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon had asked him to draw up a plan to extricate the United States from the Iran deal in late July, that plan never made it to Trump’s desk after Bannon was fired earlier this month.
Given news reports that the president was reluctant to recertify the nuclear agreement — and that the president asked to see additional options — Bolton is raising an eyebrow about why his plan wasn’t considered.
“The idea was I would go see him and, you know, the timing of the certification decision and Reince Priebus’s firing were not far apart,” he said. Priebus’s replacement as White House chief of staff, John Kelly, has limited the number of visitors to the Oval Office.
He was briefly considered again as national security adviser after Michael Flynn’s ouster, and was then offered a position as deputy national security adviser when K.T. McFarland, who initially held the position, was nominated as U.S. ambassador to Singapore. Bolton turned down the position, and McMaster ultimately chose Ricky Waddell for the role.
Bolton nonetheless continued to consult with the Trump frequently, including at the president’s request, according to a person familiar with their conversations.
Trump retweeted a Bolton tweet on North Korea earlier this month blaming President Barack Obama for failing to back a missile defense system to guard against threats from Pyongyang.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the National Review op-ed, Bolton takes the administration to task for twice certifying the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Iran Action signed into law by Obama in July 2015. The president is required to certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal, whose abolition Bolton says should be the administration’s “highest diplomatic priority.”