Days after Donald Trump embarrassed his former national security adviser, John Bolton by firing him on Twitter, a new report suggests that the president is zeroing in on an unconventional replacement for the foreign policy hawk: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
CNN reported Thursday that Trump may ask Pompeo to pull double duty, serving as both national security adviser and the head of the State Department. It would be quite an elevation for Pompeo, who was Bolton’s main rival in the Trump White House and quite clearly happy to see him fired this week. While Bolton and Pompeo didn’t diverge much along ideological lines, they were reportedly quite different in temperament. Bolton is combative and known for knocking down ideas and Pompeo is better at playing to Trump’s whims.
For now, Trump has elevated Charles Kupperman, Bolton’s former deputy, to temporarily fill in as national security adviser. He said Wednesday he has five “very highly qualified” people who want the job. Reportedly among the top contenders are Trump’s special representatives to North Korea and Iran, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, and a retired army colonel who went on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show hours after Bolton was fired to audition for the job.
If Trump decides to tap Pompeo, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s given a trusted aide extra responsibilities. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is also director of the Office of Management and Budget and previously served as Trump’s head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has a portfolio overflowing with responsibilities.
The same person serving as both national security adviser and secretary of State would not be unprecedented either. In 1973, Richard Nixon tapped his then-national security adviser Henry Kissinger to serve as secretary of State. Kissinger served in both roles simultaneously for two years.