Bolton was national security adviser until his ouster on Sept 10.
“I think he had a naive point of view of the world, that we should topple regimes everywhere and institute Democratic governments and make the world perfect or remake the world in our image,” Paul said during an appearance on Fox News on Tuesday.
“It frankly just doesn’t work that way. There’s a lot of history of getting rid of strongmen in the Middle East and having them replaced by vacuums or chaos or actually making the place more hospitable for terrorist training.”
“So I think his idea that the way you deal with Iran is you just topple the government, or the way you deal with North Korea is you topple the government, really isn’t what the president is talking about. The president is actually talking about not having regime change and finding a diplomatic solution to some of these conflicts around the world,” he continued.
“And I think the president deserves to have somebody who’s his national security adviser who will try to further his policy and not try to stymie it.”
Sen. Rand Paul talks to reporters as he heads to the U.S. Capitol for the weekly Republican policy luncheon on March 5, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), who has developed into a top Trump ally, echoed some of the sentiments during an appearance on Fox.
“It’s a personality, policy difference that led to the change,” he said. “The one thing you’ve got to learn about President Trump is he’s unconventional in a conventional way.”
Graham, who described himself as “a pretty hawkish guy,” referenced the recent planned meeting between the president and the Taliban and said he supports trying to figure out how to end the war in Afghanistan.
“I’m not here to lecture the president—you beat me, you beat 16 other Republicans, you beat Hillary Clinton—let’s give your way a try,” he said. “I’m going to support him all I can.”
Graham floated three possible Bolton replacements—Keith Kellogg, a retired Army lieutenant general; Brian Hook, an adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; and Rick Waddell, former deputy national security adviser—and said whoever replaces Bolton will have to work well with Pompeo, the Department of Defense, and the president.
“It’s about understanding the president, trying to enact his will, but telling the truth,” Graham said. “I’m looking for a national security adviser who understands the president, can work with others, give the president good advice, and, behind closed doors, push back when he needs to.”
Even some officials who typically oppose Trump, like Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), praised the ouster of Bolton, though others expressed doubts, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah).
I sincerely hope his leaving the White House does not mean that the deep-state forces at State and Treasury—who have been fighting tooth and nail to preserve the Obama Iran nuclear deal—have finally convinced the president to go soft on Iran.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) September 10, 2019
Cruz said in a statement: “John Bolton is a friend, and he has devoted his life to defending our national security, including providing wise counsel to multiple administrations.”
“I sincerely hope his leaving the White House does not mean that the deep-state forces at State and Treasury—who have been fighting tooth and nail to preserve the Obama Iran nuclear deal—have finally convinced the president to go soft on Iran,” he added.
“Relaxing the maximum pressure strategy, which is succeeding in dramatically weakening the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, would be an enormous mistake. Additionally, enabling Europe to send an economic lifeline to the Ayatollah would return to Obama’s failed foreign policy and undo the single greatest national security victory of the Trump Administration.”
Romney, who has often opposed Trump since entering office in January, said Bolton’s ouster was a “huge loss.”
“His view was not always the same as everybody else in the room. That’s why you wanted him there. The fact that he was a contrarian from time to time is an asset, not a liability,” Romney told reporters.
“I’m very very unhappy to hear that he’s leaving. It is a huge loss for the administration in my opinion and for the nation.”