pompeo trump bolton
© REUTERS/Leah Millis
The White House may hand Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the additional role of national security adviser following John Bolton's departure, giving the ex-CIA director enormous power, insiders have warned.

Pompeo would continue to serve in his current position but would also assume Bolton's responsibilities, sources close to the discussion told CNN on Wednesday, adding that such a move could make Pompeo "too powerful for Trump's taste." The diplomat would become only the second person in US history to hold both posts simultaneously. The first, Henry Kissinger, wielded enormous power under Richard Nixon during the 1970s, shaping the foreign policy of that period.

Even if Pompeo is not permanently appointed to fill Bolton's shoes, he will assume the uber-hawk's duties on a temporary basis until a replacement is named, the source said, though initial reports from the White House on Tuesday claimed that Bolton's deputy, Charles Kupperman, would assume the role in the interim. Pompeo told reporters that he was not surprised by Bolton's dismissal, but would not elaborate.

Some other names that have been floated to fill the national security adviser role include Brian Hook, special representative for Iran and senior policy adviser to Pompeo; Steve Biegun, special envoy to North Korea; Richard Grenell, US ambassador to Germany; and Douglas Macgregor, a retired army colonel. Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he has "five people that want it very much... five people that I consider very highly qualified, good people."

While Trump claimed that he "disagreed strongly with many of [Bolton's] suggestions" after announcing his national security adviser's departure on Twitter, there is little indication that US foreign policy will be taking a more peaceful track in his absence.

Pompeo's office announced the activation of a mutual defense treaty with the Venezuelan opposition on Wednesday, appearing to clear the way for military intervention in that country. Like Bolton, Pompeo is a strident opponent of Iran and supporter of Israel, which bodes ill for those hoping for a decrease in tensions in the Middle East. However, Trump is reportedly considering meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the UN later this month.