Bolton submitted a letter of resignation Tuesday morning, although Trump tweeted that he had fired his top in-house national security aide. Trump cited multiple policy differences with Bolton, and later claimed Bolton had “set us back” in negotiations with North Korea, The Washington Post reported.
Trump did not mention disagreement over Iran sanctions, and the direct link between the president’s alleged interest in easing sanctions and his break with Bolton had not been previously reported.
Bolton was a main architect of the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign of escalating economic sanctions against Iran.
Trump has said he wants to open negotiations with Iran as soon as this month for a deal to replace the 2015 nuclear agreement which he called “horrible” and unfair to the United States.
Bolton has not explained the reasons behind his departure publicly. He told The Washington Post and other news outlets that he had resigned, and said the same on Twitter.
The person close to Bolton spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal administration discussions. The White House declined to comment.
Deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said that no single thing led to Bolton’s departure.
Trump raised the prospect of lifting some sanctions as an inducement for Iran to talk, the person close to Trump said.
Asked about the future of Iran policy hours after Bolton’s departure, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin did not discuss the possibility of lifting sanctions. Mnuchin had been at the meeting.
Trump took much of Bolton’s advice during a 17-month tenure but also increasingly displayed irritation over their diverging views on US engagement with Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran.