Defense Secretary James Mattis has told colleagues he’s unsure if he can work with John Bolton, President Trump’s new pick for national security adviser, The New York Times reported.
Mattis reportedly told staffers he would find it difficult to work with Bolton prior to Trump’s announcement last Thursday that Bolton would replace H.R. McMaster.
Bolton is said to be an unpopular pick with both Mattis and White House chief of staff John Kelly.
The president tweeted last Thursday evening that Bolton, the hawkish former George W. Bush administration official, will take over for McMaster on April 9.
McMaster, an Army lieutenant general, will retire from the military, a White House official said.
Bolton served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under the Bush administration, and as undersecretary of State in the years leading up to the Iraq War, and had a focus on preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
Democrats have expressed concerns about Bolton and his past pro-war views.
Bolton will be Trump’s third national security adviser. His first, Michael Flynn, resigned last year and has since pleaded guilty in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Washington is now consumed by a debate over whether Mr. Trump’s new team plans to govern as far to the right as it talks.
So far, the incoming national security adviser, John R. Bolton, has declared that his past comments are “behind me.” Hours after his selection was announced, Mr. Bolton vowed that he would find ways to execute the policies that Mr. Trump was elected on, but that he would not tolerate slow-walking and leaks from bureaucrats he dismissed as “munchkins.”
Some who know Mr. Bolton and his operating style predict titanic clashes.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the retired general who has argued for keeping the Iran deal intact and warned that military confrontation with North Korea would result in “the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes,” told colleagues on Friday that he did not know if he could work with Mr. Bolton. The White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, another retired four-star general, was also unenthusiastic about Mr. Bolton’s hiring.