Days after Donald Trump appointed John Bolton as his national security adviser in March 2018, Nikki Haley, the outgoing ambassador to the UN, was publicly humiliated. It was no coincidence. Haley had announced a fresh wave of US sanctions on Russia for supporting Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. Hours later she was contradicted by a White House official, who said she had been “momentarily confused”. Haley shot back: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” Nor does Bolton. As a behind-the-scenes operator, the mustachioed hardliner is second only to Dick Cheney, the former vice-president. Bolton rarely appears in public. But he can manipulate Washington’s bureaucracy better than anyone else. Haley is the most high-profile casualty so far of Bolton’s infighting skills. She is unlikely to be the last. Among the so-called axis-of-adults Trump originally appointed, only Jim Mattis, the US defence secretary, remains. Her exit is ominous for those still clinging to the hope that Tru...

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