WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump’s national security adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster resigned Thursday and will be replaced by former United Nations ambassador John Bolton.
“After 34 years of service to our nation, I am requesting retirement from the U.S. Army effective this summer after which I will leave public service. Throughout my career it has been my greatest privilege to serve alongside extraordinary servicemembers and dedicated civilians,” McMaster said in a statement released by the White House on Thursday evening.
Trump offered McMaster accolades, saying his “bravery and toughness are legendary” and that he successfully helped the administration “accomplish great things to bolster America’s national security.”
“He helped develop our America First National Security Strategy, revitalize our alliances in the Middle East, smash ISIS, bring North Korea to the table, and strengthen our nation’s prosperity. This work and those achievements will ensure that America builds on its economic and military advantages. I thank General McMaster and his family for their service and wish them the very best,” Trump said.
McMaster will stay on through April to ensure a “smooth transition,” according to White House officials.
The decision for McMaster to step down was a mutual one, officials also reported. The president and general had discussed the issue for some time and felt it was “important to have the new team in place, instead of constant speculation.”
McMaster’s replacement, Bolton, served as a permanent representative to the United Nations from 2005 to 2006 and as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security from 2001 to 2005.
McMaster’s resignation marks another round of shuffling at the White House. Last week, after Trump ousted former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson via Twitter, he cryptically addressed shake-ups at the White House when he told reporters at a Thursday press conference “there will always be change” of personnel.
“And I think people want to see that change,” he said. “I want to also see different ideas.”
In addition to Tillerson, Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein was also fired last week.
Then, White House personal assistant John McEntee’s termination followed. McEntee won’t stray too far, however: his exit as personal assistant to the president has since been parlayed into senior adviser of operations for the Trump campaign.
On March 15, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders initially denied reports that McMaster was on his way out, writing on Twitter that rumors of friction between the president and the general were unfounded and that the two had “a good working relationship.”
Historically, their relationship had been tested.
On Feb. 17, the president rebuffed McMaster on social media after the one-time national security adviser called evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 election “incontrovertible” when speaking to guests at the Munich Security Conference.
Trump wasted little time publicly opposing his adviser’s stance.
He tweeted the same day: “General McMaster forgot to say the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!” [Capitalization original]
Widespread reports also indicated McMaster stood opposed to the president’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum, aligning himself instead with Trump economic adviser, Gary Cohn, who rejected the policy.
Cohn resigned just days after the tariff program was announced.
The National Security Council reshuffling comes at a time when diplomacy talks with North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un have just begun gathering steam.
McMaster replaced former national security adviser Michael Flynn after the president removed Flynn for making false statements to Vice President Mike Pence.
Before his role in the White House, McMaster, a veteran of the Iraq, Afghanistan and Gulf conflicts directed army operations at the Army Capabilities Integration Center. He was also the deputy commanding general at the Army Training and Doctrine Command in Virginia.