What's Bolton up to anyway?
I don't know what Bolton is up to here. I don't trust him as far as I can throw him and I'm certain he has his own agenda. Nonetheless, he knew very well that this would be reported. And it contains more than just teasers for his book although he clearly teasing his book.
It's quite an indictment:
Former national security adviser John Bolton derided President Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law during a private speech last week and suggested his former boss’ approach to U.S. policy on Turkey is motivated by personal or financial interests, several people who were present for the remarks told NBC News.
According to six people who were there, Bolton also questioned the merits of Trump applying his business acumen to foreign policy, saying such issues can’t be approached like the win-or-lose edict that drives real estate deals: When one deal doesn’t work, you move on to the next.
The description was part of a broader portrait Bolton outlined of a president who lacks an understanding of the interconnected nature of relationships in foreign policy and the need for consistency, these people said.
Bolton has kept a low public profile since he left the administration on Sept. 10, and efforts by Democrats to have him testify in the House impeachment inquiry into the president have stalled. But his pointed comments, at a private gathering last Wednesday at Morgan Stanley’s global investment event in Miami, painted a dark image of a president and his family whose potential personal gain is at the heart of decision-making, according to people who were present for his remarks.
Bolton served as Trump’s national security adviser for 17 months. The Ukraine scandal began to unfold about a week after his contentious departure. Trump said he’d fired him, though Bolton said he had resigned.
Multiple people who attended Bolton’s private speech in Miami did not recall him mentioning Ukraine but said he told attendees that he had kept a resignation letter in his desk for three months. Bolton declined to comment for this article.
Bolton told the gathering of Morgan Stanley’s largest hedge fund clients that he was most frustrated with Trump over his handling of Turkey, people who were present said. Noting the broad bipartisan support in Congress to sanction Turkey after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan purchased a Russian missile defense system, Bolton said Trump’s resistance to the move was unreasonable, four people present for his speech said.
Bolton said he believes there is a personal or business relationship dictating Trump’s position on Turkey because none of his advisers are aligned with him on the issue, the people present said.
The Trump Organization has a property in Istanbul, and the president's daughter Ivanka Trump attended the opening with Erdogan in 2012. Though it’s a leasing agreement for use of the Trump name, Trump himself said in a 2015 interview that the arrangement presented “a little conflict of interest” should he be elected.
During an Oct. 6 phone call with Erdogan, Trump agreed to pull back U.S. troops from northeast Syria so Turkish forces could launch an attack against America’s Kurdish allies in the area. The presence of U.S. forces had deterred Erdogan from invading Syria, which he had threatened to do for years. Trump’s decision, followed by an order for all U.S. troops to exit Syria, was widely criticized even among the president’s Republican allies and was seen by many as a gift to the Turkish leader.
It was. Clearly. And a gift to Assad, Iran and Russia too. I don't know what specifically propelled him to do it but I think we should see the transcript of that call too. (It's highly unlikely that we ever will, however...)
Like other former Trump advisers, Bolton said regardless of how much evidence is provided to Trump that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, the president refuses to take any action because he views any move against Moscow as giving credence to the notion that his election is invalid, the people present for Bolton's remarks said.
At one point in his closed-door remarks, Bolton was asked what he thinks will happen in January 2021 if Trump is re-elected, people present for his remarks said. Bolton responded by taking a swipe at Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump — both of whom are senior White House advisers — and at Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., three people familiar with his remarks said.
Bolton said Trump could go full isolationist — with the faction of the Republican Party that aligns with Paul’s foreign policy views taking over the GOP — and could withdraw the U.S. from NATO and other international alliances, three people present for his remarks said.
He also suggested that Kushner and Ivanka Trump could convince the president to rewrite his legacy and nominate a liberal like Lawrence Tribe — a Harvard Law professor who has questioned Trump’s fitness for office and was a legal adviser to Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign — to the Supreme Court, the people present for Bolton's speech said.
Bolton said, with an eye roll that suggested he doesn’t take them seriously, that Kushner and Ivanka Trump could do so in an attempt to prove they had real influence and were in the White House representing the people they want to be in social circles with at home in New York City, the people present for his remarks said.
Those present said that at that point, the audience appeared shocked.
Bolton has been writing a book, having reached a deal with Simon & Schuster, and people present for his remarks in Miami said he suggested to the audience several times that if they read it, there would be much more material along the lines of what was in his speech.
I have decided that this excuse that Trump refuses to give credence to the Russian interference because it calls his victory into question is bullshit. He lies about everything. He could have just declared that the Russian interference didn't help him win and that trying didn't buy them any favors. His people would have been just as happy with that. And anyway, this explanation can't account for the dozens of other examples of him favoring Russia in inexplicable ways. Denying that Russia interfered in the election is the least of it.
As for Bolton, I just don't know what to make of him. He's self-dealing for sure. But it seems that he's made a calculation that's a little bit different from the rest of them. It may just be that he's pimping his book. Or he may have calculated that being in Trump's White House has ruined his professional reputation and he's trying to salvage it. Or maybe he's just as vicious as Trump and wants to get revenge.
I don't know. But his criticisms are sound whatever it is. Trump's foreign policy decisions are horrifying whether you look at them from the right or the left.