President Trump said Wednesday that ousted national security adviser John Bolton made ‘‘some very big mistakes,’’ citing his views on a panoply of foreign conflicts, his sour relations with North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un, and his clashes with other top national security officials as reasons he had to go.
‘‘John’s known as a tough guy,’’ Trump said disparagingly. ‘‘He’s so tough he got us into Iraq. That’s tough.’’
He added, ‘‘John wasn’t in line with what we were doing.’’
Bolton initially declined to comment in response to Trump’s remarks. He then texted back a few minutes later: ‘‘I will have my say in due course.’’
Several Bolton allies said privately that he was closely watching the news coverage of his exit and the president’s comments, and has not ruled out further remarks as events unfold.
One of the Bolton allies, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly, called the president’s criticisms ‘‘odd’’ and ‘‘off’’ but said Bolton was not surprised by Trump’s latest outburst after working alongside him and becoming familiar with his behavior.
‘‘He is quiet — for now,’’ this ally said, noting that Bolton could write a book or give a major television interview, among other options.
Bolton already has shown a willingness to fight back against Trump. Within minutes of Trump saying he had forced Bolton to resign Tuesday, the former national security adviser offered a different version — that it was his idea.
One senior administration official close to Bolton described him as frustrated with the president’s vacillating positions, his willingness to meet with any world leader without conditions, and dysfunction within the administration.
The Oval Office criticism of Bolton, who was Trump’s national security adviser until Tuesday when he was dismissed abruptly by tweet, was part of a pattern by the president of trashing former officials he perceives as disloyal or a future threat. He labeled ousted secretary of state Rex Tillerson ‘‘dumb as a rock,’’ repeatedly lampooned former attorney general Jeff Sessions, attacked former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci as having ‘‘zero credibility,’’ and expressed displeasure with former defense secretary Jim Mattis.