Bolton takes the helm on national security at time of tumult
WASHINGTON — The U.S. military is bracing for a possible strike in Syria. Preparations for a high-risk North Korea summit are barrelling forward. The White House staff is on edge, unsure who will be fired next, and when. And the national security team is holding its breath to see whether their new leader will be a shock to the system.
Enter John Bolton, the pugnacious former U.N. ambassador who took over Monday as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser — the third person to hold the job in barely 14 months. Trump’s selection of Bolton last month set off a guessing game in Washington as to just how much of an imprint his take-no-prisoners approach to foreign policy will have on Trump’s team, already beleaguered and exhausted after a tumultuous first year.
If Bolton had any first-day jitters, he had little time to indulge them. A daunting to-do list has awaited him, punctuated over the weekend by a suspected chemical weapons attack by Syria’s government that led Trump to start exploring potential military retaliation.
Although Bolton didn’t formally start until Monday, he was spotted entering the White House over the weekend, carrying an umbrella as he strolled down the driveway toward the West Wing on a rainy Saturday.
And on Monday, he appeared at his first Cabinet meeting, where Trump talked up his forthcoming meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.