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President Donald Trump’s decision to abruptly fire national security adviser H.R. McMaster surprised senior White House aides who had been preparing a single statement announcing the departure of multiple top Trump officials, according to two senior administration officials.
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White House chief of staff John Kelly and other top aides were waiting for inspector general reports that they believed would deliver devastating verdicts on Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who have both been accused of racking up extravagant expenses. They were also debating whether several senior White House aides, including McMaster, should go with them.
It’s unclear which other West Wing officials were possibly set to depart with McMaster, but the two senior administration officials said they believed it would be easier to manage the optics if multiple firings were made public in a single statement instead of drawn out. The announcement, though, was not expected for at least another week.
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Trump, however, upended those plans late Thursday, firing McMaster and offering his job to former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton in a move that surprised not only his top advisers — but also Bolton himself.
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Though the hawkish conservative has spoken with the president several times in recent weeks, those close to him say he had no indication the president would offer him the job when he went to the White House for a meeting on Thursday. Bolton also was passed over for a top State Department job last year, reportedly because Trump was turned off by his bristly, full mustache.
And while McMaster has been...
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