The Reality Show Continues — Bolton and Navarro May Resign in Protest
Author: Greg Valliere
July 2, 2019
THE REALITY SHOW CONTINUES: Despite generally rave reviews for his Asia trip, President Trump is running into some serious blowback — mostly from his top allies. We’re hearing that hardliners John Bolton and Peter Navarro are considering resigning; their advice clearly was ignored last weekend.
BOLTON WAS CONVENIENTLY SENT TO MONGOLIA as Trump met with G20 leaders. Bolton was repudiated last month when U.S. air strikes on Iran were cancelled at the last minute; weeks earlier Trump publicly mocked Bolton’s hawkishness. Now comes the next policy battle: could the U.S. really agree to let North Korea keep its nuclear weapons, in return for a promise to produce no more?
THAT TRIAL BALLOON, first reported early yesterday by the New York Times, rocked Washington. The mere fact that it’s under consideration has hardliners gasping; Trump previously had promised that Kim Jong Un would have to destroy all of his weapons. Bolton reacted furiously to the Times article, but sources say he’s on thin ice. “Will he jump or get pushed out?” one source asked us last night.
THE TRADE HARD-LINERS are equally enraged by Trump’s backtracking on Huawei and Chinese tariffs. Trump apparently melted in his meeting with Xi Jinping, abandoning his vow to impose new tariffs if there was no deal. This has led to speculation that trade hawk Peter Navarro will leave soon; he has lost this power struggle.
THE REACTION ON CAPITOL HILL was equally critical. Pro-labor Democrats like Chuck Schumer blasted what they saw as a trade cave-in, and Republican critics of Huawei — led by Marco Rubio — called for more details on concessions to the telecommunications giant, which is widely viewed as an arm of the Chinese Communist party.
DESPITE ANOTHER EMBARRASSING LAPDOG INCIDENT with Vladimir Putin, Trump won widespread praise in Congress for his public relations skills on the trip. “His meeting with Kim was TV genius,” one Hill staffer told us. But most lawmakers don’t expect any substantive progress with North Korea or China any time soon.
AS WE WROTE YESTERDAY, Trump bought time, with tensions receding on the Korean peninsula and trade talks resuming; it was a clear political victory. But insiders in both parties — and at the White House — increasingly view Trump as a master of photo ops whose bombastic rhetoric does not result in any real geopolitical accomplishments.
SO IT’S PROBABLY TIME FOR ANOTHER PERSONNEL PUTSCH: With the Robert Mueller hearing looming on July 17, the White House is certain to seek a distraction; one or two big names may depart. Along with Bolton and Navarro, we’d put acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on the “worn out their welcome” list. Mulvaney wants tough spending curbs in the upcoming budget brawl, but Trump — despite his tough rhetoric — is likely to cave on this as well.
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