Former national security adviser John Bolton says he won’t vote for President Trump and that his onetime boss is “unfit for office” and a “danger” to the republic.
Bolton's comments, in interviews with ABC News, USA Today and NPR, come just before the release of his explosive new book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.” The Trump administration had unsuccessfully attempted to stop the book from being published.
The book paints a searing portrait of the president as a “stunningly uninformed” man who was outmatched by the job he was elected to do.
On Saturday, a federal judge declined to halt the book’s publication, paving the way for it to go on sale Tuesday. But the judge also said Bolton “likely jeopardized national security” by including classified material, and some experts believe he will have to forfeit profits from the book to the U.S. government.
Last week, Trump described Bolton as a “wacko,” “sick puppy,” “disgruntled boring fool” and “dope,” and claimed that the book is “made up.”
“I gave John Bolton, who was incapable of being Senate confirmed because he was considered a wacko, and was not liked, a chance,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “I always like hearing differing points of view. He turned out to be grossly incompetent, and a liar. See judge’s opinion. CLASSIFIED INFORMATION!!!”
Bolton told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz that he’d expected a “volcanic” reaction from the president.
“I’ve expected that from the beginning,” he said. “There were times when I was writing this book or getting it ready for publication that I thought, ‘Goodness, this is more trouble than it’s worth.’ But now that we’re at the point, I’m prepared to accept whatever happens.”
Trump put ‘personal interests’ ahead of U.S. policy
Bolton, who served for 17 months as Trump’s national security adviser, said there was no real philosophy to the president’s foreign policy, with one exception.
“There really isn’t any guiding principle that I was able to discern, other than what’s good for Donald Trump’s reelection,” Bolton told ABC.
“Everything in the administration is at risk of being torqued around Donald Trump’s personal needs,” Bolton told USA Today. “This happens over and over again, this fusing of legitimate government interests with Donald Trump’s personal interests.”
A case in point, he said, was the teargassing of protesters outside the White House to clear a path for Trump to stage a photo of himself holding up a Bible in front of a church.
Bolton mocked the photo op during his interview with USA Today, holding up a copy of his book to mimic Trump’s awkward Bible display.
A picture is worth a thousand words: After the @USATODAY interview with John Bolton, published in this morning's edition, here's the pose he struck while my colleague @jaspercolt was shooting his portrait. Look familiar? https://t.co/2TxcgKp9SO pic.twitter.com/mtmNTPVbP4
— Susan Page (@SusanPage) June 22, 2020
Trump had a ‘romantic approach’ to dictators
Much of the headlines from Bolton’s book revolve around Trump’s courting of Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his attempts to use their relationship. According to Bolton, Trump even said he approved of Beijing’s use of concentration camps to suppress the country’s Uighur minority. NPR interviewer Steve Inskeep asked Bolton if the president had “a kind of romantic approach to numerous dictators.”
“Yeah, I think that’s an accurate description, and I don’t discount the importance of personal relations between the top leaders of the countries, whether they’re friends or adversaries,” Bolton said.
“It’s true at the secretary of state level, the secretary of defense level as well,” he continued. “But I think the president had a continued problem in discerning the difference between having a good personal relationship with Xi Jinping, let’s say, and the U.S. having good relations with China in the sense of advancing American national interest. And I think it was this confusion that led us into a number of problem areas and are still causing us problems today.”
The president is ‘almost proud’ of his ignorance
According to the book, Trump did not know that Finland was an independent nation and thought it could be part of Russia. He was also unaware that the United Kingdom was a nuclear power.
Bolton told ABC News that Trump “very rarely read much” during intelligence briefings — a claim that is in line with other tell-alls about the Trump White House.
“He’s almost proud of not learning much about the subject matter of national security,” Bolton told USA Today.
Bolton, a lifelong Republican who served in various national security roles under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, called working in the Trump White House “like living inside a pinball machine.”
Bolton won’t be voting for Trump — or Biden
On Sunday, the Daily Telegraph reported that Bolton was going to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden in November’s general election. He told NPR that wasn’t accurate, saying he disagreed with the presumptive Democratic nominee’s policies.
“I’ve known him for many years,” he said of Biden. “This is not a question of integrity, in my view. It’s a question of philosophy. This is a very unhappy election for me. As I say, I face the same dilemma as I think many people did in 2016. And I chose at that time because I thought it was the best thing to do for the country to vote for Trump. But given my experience, I just can’t see doing it again.”
Bolton told both ABC and NPR he’d be writing in the name of a conservative Republican.
As for Trump, Bolton told ABC: “I hope [history] will remember him as a one-term president who didn’t plunge the country irretrievably into a downward spiral we can’t recall from.”
“We can get over one term. I have absolute confidence,” he added. “Two terms, I’m more troubled about.”
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