National security adviser H.R. McMaster waves as he walks into the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Friday, March 16, 2018.
Trump replaces McMaster with Fox News analyst
01:57 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Former President Jimmy Carter sharply criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to appoint John Bolton as national security adviser, calling the move “maybe one of the worst mistakes that President Trump has made since he’s been in office” in an interview with USA Today.

Trump named Bolton, a former US ambassador and Fox News analyst, as his new national security adviser last week. Bolton, who has a reputation as a foreign policy hawk, will replace H.R. McMaster.

When USA Today’s Washington bureau chief Susan Page asked the Georgia Democrat and former president what advice he would give to Trump on North Korea, Carter replied: “You mean, other than fire John Bolton? That would be my first advice.”

Carter said he was “very much distressed” to see McMaster replaced by Bolton.

“I think John Bolton is a disaster for our country,” he told USA Today. “Maybe one of the worst mistakes that President Trump has made since he’s been in office is the appointment of John Bolton.”

Carter described Bolton as a “war-like figure,” saying that he has “been advocating a war with North Korea for a long time and even promoting an attack on Iran, and who was one of the leading figures in orchestrating the decision to invade Iraq.”

After his appointment, Bolton tried to distance himself from his past statements.

Bolton told Fox News’ “The Story” that his past comments are now “behind me” and what matters is “what the President says.”

“During my career, I have written I don’t know how many articles and op-eds and opinion pieces. I have given I can’t count the number of speeches, I have countless interviews … in the past 11 years. They’re all out there in the public record. I have never been shy about what my views are,” Bolton said, adding later, “Frankly, what I have said in private now is behind me.”

He concluded: “The important thing is what the President says and the advice I give him.”

But the former president said that he is afraid Bolton’s “influence on President Trump will be deleterious to our country.”

Carter added that he “hope[s] and pray[s]” that a meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will take place. Carter also said he would advise the President to listen “very carefully” to the North Koreans.

“What the North Koreans have wanted for a long time is just some assurance that the United States will not attack North Korea as long as North Korea stays at peace with its neighbors,” Carter said, according to USA Today.

CNN’s Dan Merica and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.