Newly empowered national security adviser John Bolton is continuing to remake the National Security Council, with another senior aide departing in upcoming weeks.
Ricky Waddell, the deputy national security adviser, is leaving the White House as Bolton builds his own team, two officials said Thursday.
Since taking over Monday, Bolton has removed homeland security adviser Tom Bossert, National Security Council deputy Nadia Schadlow and national security spokesman Michael Anton. Senior White House officials said other personnel changes could happen in the coming days on the National Security Council, which has been weakened under the Trump administration but is expected to gain power under Bolton.
White House officials said Waddell was well-liked inside the White House and would stay on for several weeks during the transition. Bolton has not finalized a decision for the replacement, these people said.
Bolton’s strategy has proved markedly different than that of Larry Kudlow, the national economic adviser, who has offered to keep all of former economic adviser Gary Cohn’s team and has made few waves at the national economic council.
Waddell often played an integral role inside the building, preparing national security briefings for the president, organizing meetings and traveling with Trump.
Waddell, for instance, told Trump about the deaths of U.S. military troops in Syria after a recent rally, where the president said — on the spot — that he wanted to pull troops out of Syria. One former senior administration official called him a “steady hand and a workhorse.” But he was not known to have a particularly close relationship with Trump.
Trump often clashed with former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who gave long-winded, didactic briefings and came under fire from Trump allies. McMaster also clashed with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. McMaster allies say he was unfairly attacked and often served as a voice of reason in a chaotic administration — and that he carried out Trump’s orders, even when he disagreed.
Bolton has said he wants his own team in place ahead of a chaotic two-month stretch, in which the administration must decide whether to recertify the Iran nuclear deal, and Trump is expected to meet with North Korea President Kim Jong-Un. Bolton has been skeptical of meeting with Kim Jong-Un and has frequently criticized the Iran deal, which Trump has told allies he wants to shred.