Thomas Gallatin / March 23, 2018

Trump Taps Bolton and diGenova as Replacements

The administration’s shuffling continues with the president’s national security advisor and lead lawyer resigning.

This week, two more members of President Donald Trump’s team resigned. The most prominent was National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who will be replaced by former UN Ambassador John Bolton. The second was Trump’s lead attorney John Dowd, who since last summer had been the president’s chief lawyer on the Russia investigation. Trump hired Joseph diGenova to replace him. Significantly, The Wall Street Journal notes, “diGenova … is expected to take a more confrontational approach” in pushing against Robert Mueller’s investigation.

So what’s the takeaway from these changes? First, Bolton is now Trump’s third national security advisor in 14 months. This appears to be more of a lateral move rather than a step up, as both men are highly qualified. Unlike how the mainstream media has described him, Bolton is much more than a “Fox News commentator and conservative firebrand.” Rather, “Bolton is a very well-known commodity in DC foreign policy circles,” as Paul Bincelli of The Federalist writes. “He is one of those experienced hands known for his personality (and the mustache, too, let’s not forget), breadth of knowledge, and key roles in policy debates and implementing the White House’s wishes. Bolton, a lawyer by training, served in the Reagan administration’s Justice Department as an assistant attorney general in the Civil Division, but thereafter served both Bushes at the State Department and United Nations.”

Bolton is not afraid to speak his mind, an attribute that should serve Trump well. And similar to the president, Bolton believes in a foreign policy that puts America first. A vocal critic of Barack Obama’s Iran deal, Bolton has consistently advocated for maintaining a strong stance against both Iran and North Korea.

Second, as for diGenova, as previously mentioned, he’s a tough figure who’s not afraid to mix it up with the media. For example, just hours before his appointment, diGenova told a DC radio station, “We have a very, very bad situation. It’s the worst since Watergate. And you have people in charge — Rod Rosenstein to be one, Chris Wray to be another — who do not understand that this is a crisis. They are behaving like children. They don’t know how to lead. They don’t know how to make public statements. They’ve disappeared.”

It has been rumored that the reason Dowd stepped down was due to his belief that his counsel to the president was not being heeded, specifically regarding his warnings that Trump not agree to an interview with Mueller. However, could it be instead that Trump is gearing up to fire Mueller, ending the special investigation? He would therefore need a media-savvy and aggressive lawyer like diGenova to publicly defend his decision. Time will tell.

Update 3/26: Time has told one thing — that diGenova will not be joining Trump’s legal team after all, due to conflicts of interest.

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