Who is John Bolton, the former national security adviser now a focus in Trump’s impeachment trial?
William Cummings USA
Former national security adviser John Bolton has become a central figure in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump and the debate over whether senators should subpoena additional witnesses.
After Bolton failed to appear voluntarily before a House impeachment hearing in November, his lawyer Charles Cooper told the investigating committees that his client was “personally involved” in meetings relevant to the inquiry into whether Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine for political reasons.
On Sunday, news outlets reported that a manuscript for Bolton’s upcoming book says Trump explicitly told Bolton he did not want to release the aid until Ukraine helped with investigations related to the 2016 election and Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden.
Because Bolton’s reported claim would contradict the president who has insisted the decision to delay the aid was rooted in concerns about corruption, not politics, the news about his book sharply intensified Democrats’ demand that he be called to testify. https://c3041d630edf1716d34deaf2d734dea7.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
So who is the man who Democrats say could provide “explosive” information in the impeachment trial?
Bolton’s bombshell book:What we know about John Bolton’s allegations about Trump and Ukraine
A fierce and fiery hawk
Bolton, 71, is a Yale graduate, lawyer and diplomat who served as President George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations.
He has long advocated an aggressive U.S. foreign policy and the use of American military might, including the right to strike first against potential threats. He was a strong proponent of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and still believes toppling Saddam Hussein was the right move, despite the failure to find weapons of mass destruction and the costly occupation. https://c3041d630edf1716d34deaf2d734dea7.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
After leaving the Bush administration, Bolton espoused his hawkish views as a columnist and Fox News commentator. In that role, he called for preemptive military action against Iran and North Korea.
In 2015, he wrote an op-ed that ran in The New York Times titled, “To stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” And in a 2018 piece in The Wall Street Journal that ran just before he was tapped to become Trump’s next national security adviser, he argued it was “perfectly legitimate” for the U.S. to strike North Korea first to take out the threat posed by its nuclear weapons.
He also founded the John Bolton PAC and John Bolton Super PAC, which aimed to make national security concerns an election issue.
Bolton appointment:New national security adviser heralds a more aggressive Trump foreign policy
Clashes with Trump on foreign policy
Bolton was tapped to replace outgoing national security adviser H.R. McMaster in March 2018. And from the beginning, the hawkish Bolton clashed with Trump, who sought to disengage the U.S. from military conflicts rather than beginning new ones.
The president and his national security adviser disagreed on a number of key issues, including peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan, withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria and negotiations with North Korea. He also wanted Trump to take more aggressive action against Iran and Venezuela.
The Trump-Bolton breakup was inevitable:Disagreements over Iran, North Korea and more
An acrimonious departure
Trump said he fired Bolton on Sept. 10 because he “disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions.”
But minutes later, Bolton tweeted that he had offered his resignation the night before and Trump had told him, “Let’s talk about it tomorrow.” And he texted several journalists saying, “Let’s be clear I resigned.”
Washington Post reporter Robert Costa said Bolton told him, “I will have my say in due course. But I have given you the facts on the resignation. My sole concern is US national security.”
‘Let’s be clear, I resigned’:John Bolton contradicts Donald Trump on whether he was fired
Since leaving the Trump White House
After leaving the Trump administration, Bolton returned to his work at the head of his political action committees and announced he would be donating $10,000 to five Republican incumbent reelection campaigns for 2020.
After he failed to appear for the House impeachment inquiry in November, Bolton said he would not honor a subpoena unless he was ordered to by a court. Democrats said they did not want to mire the process in a lengthy legal battle and decided not to subpoena him, even after former aides testified he had decried the alleged attempt to leverage military aid to Ukraine as a “drug deal.”
On Nov. 22, Bolton, who had not tweeted since he disputed the nature of his White House departure, announced that he had “liberated” his Twitter account after being denied access by the White House.
“Out of fear of what I may say?” he wondered.
On Jan. 6, Bolton said in a statement that because it did not appear the legal issues surrounding his testimony would be resolved before the impeachment trial, he decided, “if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify.”
Things to know:5 facts about John Bolton
Contributing: John Fritze, David Jackson, Michael Collins, Deirdre Shesgreen, Rebecca Morin and Savannah Behrmann
Schiff: Bolton could have made a difference, but he chose to make a profit with his book
Bolton provides new evidence that Trump flagrantly abused power and confirms our central impeachment charge that he put his interests above America’s.
Last week, we witnessed the reemergence of John Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser, and the release of his book. In it, Bolton describes his personal experiences with Donald Trump and his great alarm at Trump’s incompetence, his dangerous subordination of our national security to his own personal interests, and his fundamental indecency.
In short, Bolton is telling Americans what we already know. That the president is exactly what he appears to be: petty, self-serving, ignorant and utterly supplicant to autocrats in China, Turkey, North Korea and Russia.
We proved during the impeachment trial that Trump withheld hundreds of millions in military aid to Ukraine to coerce that country into announcing a sham investigation of his political rival. Bolton confirms our case and provides additional evidence of that flagrant abuse of power by providing a firsthand account of how Trump confirmed this illicit quid pro quo during a conversation they had. Moreover, Bolton also corroborates the testimony of Gordon Sondland, the former U.S. ambassador to the European Union who testified that “everyone was in the loop.” Indeed they were, including the secretary of State, the Defense secretary and Attorney General William Barr.
Betrayal of American values
But Bolton does more than just confirm the impeachment charges. During the trial, I raised a hypothetical question about China intervening in our election and whether Trump would resist such interference — or offer China a better trade deal, instead. As it turns out, this was no hypothetical. Bolton details how Trump sought reelection help from China, at one point begging Chinese President Xi Jinping for assistance and apparently offering trade concessions to get it.https://ce6c02d75567e6ddede370968d283518.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
According to Bolton, Trump also undermined the values of our country by telling Xi that not only was it appropriate for the Chinese leader to imprison millions of Uighurs in detention camps, but also that it was the right thing to do. This is a stunning betrayal of everything America stands for and can only be understood in the context of Trump’s desperation to secure China’s help for his reelection.
No wonder, too, that while a new virus was threatening the health of our citizens, President Trump continued singing China’s praises while knowing that China was concealing important information about the virus’ spread.
Most damning, though, is Bolton’s confirmation of our central charge during Trump’s impeachment — that the country could not trust Donald Trump to do what’s right for the United States but only what was right for Donald Trump. As Bolton wrote: “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations.”
Given his damning portrait of a dangerously out-of-control U.S. president, and the astonishing degree to which Bolton possessed evidence directly relevant to our impeachment investigation, what are we to make of Bolton’s decision to withhold this information until he could profit from it? Only this, that John Bolton is no patriot. To the same extent and in the same degree in which he condemns Trump, Bolton indicts himself for putting profit above patriotism.
Thankfully, there were true patriots on Bolton’s staff and elsewhere in the government that told Congress what they knew when asked by the House to testify about Trump’s corrupt scheme. They did the right thing, sometimes at significant personal and professional cost. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman has faced a retaliatory firing from the National Security Council and now could be denied a promotionbecause he told the truth. Because in his indelible words, “This is America. … And here, right matters.” Get the Coronavirus Watch newsletter in your inbox.
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Cowardice instead of courage
Bolton had his opportunity to join Vindman, Fiona Hill, Tim Morrison, Marie Yovanovitch, Bill Taylor and many others who displayed great courage in testifying. But he refused. Repeatedly.
And though it feels like a lifetime ago, it has hardly been five months thatI asked the Senate this rhetorical question about Trump — “How much damage can he do between now and the next election? A lot. A lot of damage.”
None of the above:Bolton has a habit of toppling leaders but having no replacement in mind
Over 125,000 Americans are now dead from COVID-19. Tens of millions are unemployed. During a time of national reckoning over systemic racism, Trump does nothing but sow division and use the levers of his power to attack his enemies. And it’s only June.
When our history is written, Donald Trump will be judged harshly, as will those Republican members of the Senate who refused to stand up to him in the face of such graphic evidence of wrongdoing and unfitness for office. But neither will it be kind to John Bolton, who had a chance to make a difference and chose to make a profit instead.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Follow him on Twitter @RepAdamSchiff
Navarro: Bolton set himself up as ‘White House warlord’
© UPI Photo
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro unloaded on former national security adviser John Bolton in a Fox News op-ed published on Sunday, accusing him of acting like a “warlord” in the Trump administration.
In a column excoriating Bolton for the release of his new book, “The Room Where It Happened,” Navarro echoed claims from other top advisers to President Trump who have accused the former national security adviser of lording over other White House staff and spinning false tales in his memoir.
“Here’s the John Bolton I knew: Within days of his appointment as President Trump’s national security adviser, Bolton established his own ‘autonomous zone’ in his spacious suite of offices within the West Wing of the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building,” Navarro wrote in an apparent reference to an autonomous zone set up by demonstrators in downtown Seattle this month.
“Within this sprawling fortress, this Dr. Strangelove throwback set himself up as a warlord plotting all manner of coups, invasions and missile strikes,” Navarro continued.
Navarro also suggested in the piece that Bolton could face prison time for information in his book which the administration claims is classified. Lawyers for the Trump administration argued in court the book’s publication should be halted. Bolton has denied that his memoir contains any classified information.
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“It would be a crime for former National Security Adviser John Bolton to get rich from his new book, which is Washington Swamp revenge porn. The Justice Department and perhaps a jury will have a say about that. Bolton may also wind up in prison for leaking highly classified information,” Navarro wrote.
Navarro’s words are the latest offensive from the White House aimed at Bolton, who made a number of politically charged claims in his book including that the president approached Chinese President Xi Jinping for assistance with winning reelection in November.
White House officials and other top Trump administration figures such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have denied the claims made in the book