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White House Homeland Security Adviser Resigns


And I'm Steve Inskeep with the daily White House resignation. OK, it's not really daily, but it can seem like it sometimes. Another official has resigned from President Trump's White House. This time, it's the president's homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert. His departure comes one day after his new boss, John Bolton, took over as the president's national security adviser. NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley has been working hard today. He's with us once again. Hey there, Scott.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: For those who don't know, who's Tom Bossert?

HORSLEY: He is the president's - or was the president's homeland security and counterterrorism adviser. Whenever you hear that something bad has happened somewhere around the world, whether it's an earthquake or a mass shooting and that the president's been briefed, chances are it was Tom Bossert who did the briefing. He was a veteran of George W. Bush's White House. He also worked at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

His most public role was probably helping to coordinate the White House response during that awful string of hurricanes we had last summer - Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria. Like the rest of the government, Bossert got pretty high marks for his response during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and somewhat more criticism for the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

INSKEEP: Well, why would he leave now?

HORSLEY: Well, you hinted at it. John Bolton has taken over this week for H.R. McMaster as national security adviser. And since he's come, we've seen a little bit of an exodus at the National Security Council. Michael Anton, the NSC spokesman, left over the weekend. You know, John Bolton is a powerful and polarizing figure. He is also an experienced bureaucratic infighter, and he is, I think, widely expected to sort of put his own stamp on the national security apparatus here at the White House.

INSKEEP: OK. So we presume - we don't really know, but we presume that either Bolton said I can't work with you or Bossert said I'm going to give you a chance to hire your own guy. I'd rather not be here anymore - one of those.

HORSLEY: And we don't get a lot of guidance from the official statement from the White House that said simply that the president is grateful for Tom's commitment to safety and security of our great country, that President Trump thanks him for his patriotic service and wishes him well.

INSKEEP: Is anything larger happening here, Scott, in that an awful lot of people who were around the president since the beginning have departed the White House in the last month or two?

HORSLEY: That's right. Of course, we've seen - even before the last month or two, we saw a lot of exoduses. John Bolton is the third national security adviser in the White House. The first one didn't last very long at all. But you are seeing people depart - in fact, an unprecedented level of turnover in this administration and people perhaps more akin to Trump's campaign brand coming onboard.

INSKEEP: OK. And this is just some of the news that I know you're tracking today. Another thing is that the president has canceled a trip to South America. Why would that be?

HORSLEY: Yeah, just an abrupt announcement this morning that Trump would not be going to Lima, Peru, as scheduled on Friday for the Summit of the Americas. This is a big gathering of leaders from throughout the Western Hemisphere. The official explanation is that he's going to remain in the United States to monitor and oversee the U.S. response to that suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria. He may be doing that, but certainly, there's nothing that would preclude him doing that from Lima, Peru.

There are also, of course, legal issues in his inner circle. We saw the raid yesterday on the office of his longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen. And in any event, the Latin American summit was going to be an awkward appearance for the president. His personal approval rating in Latin America is down around 16 percent.

INSKEEP: OK. Scott, thanks for the update, really appreciate it.

HORSLEY: Good to be with you, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley. And, again, the latest of many bits of news in the last 24 hours is that Tom Bossert, the homeland security adviser, has resigned. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.
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