President Donald Trump sought counsel from Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, whom he fired last year, as he grew frustrated with his successor, National Security Adviser John Bolton, who was dismissed on Tuesday.
Trump told McMaster in telephone calls that began last fall that he missed him, two people “familiar with the conversations” told NBC News.
“It’s a sentiment the president has also expressed to White House aides,” they told the network, adding that Trump had “solicited McMaster’s advice on various national-security challenges, even asking McMaster whom he should nominate to lead the Pentagon.”
Trump announced McMaster’s firing on Twitter in March 2018 — doing the same with Bolton’s on Tuesday, though Bolton countered that he resigned and was not terminated.
Aides told NBC that Trump was “close to firing Bolton earlier this year, even putting his name on a list of officials he’d like to get rid of before the end of the year” to not affect his re-election bid.
In addition, a policy rift between Trump and Bolton in late May or early June led a White House official to advise Bolton to keep a low profile and “steer clear of the president,” three people “familiar with the conversation” told NBC.
The official suggested more traveling for Bolton or other activities that would “keep him away from Trump,” according to the sources.
However, a Bolton spokesman denied that such a conversation took place and dismissed the notion of tensions between Bolton and the president or any other White House officials, NBC reports.