I’m not quite sure what the big takeaway from John Bolton’s Tuesday interview on CNN was.
On one hand, Bolton — a hawk among hawks who left his post as White House national security advisor in 2019 loathing then-President Donald Trump more than the prospect of eating steamed tofu for the rest of his life — vehemently insisted there was no way the events of Jan. 6, 2021, constituted a coup.
On the other hand, he asserted (rather casually, it must be said) that he knew this because he’d planned a coup or two before, and this definitely wasn’t one.
Whatever you think the lede ought to be from the interview, it was a blow to those trying to weave a grand narrative in which the Capitol incursion was a concerted attempt by the president to overthrow the government of the United States: Bolton, who has accused Trump of impeachable crimes in print, is ruling out any sort of grand conspiracy on the part of the former president. Take that as you will.
(As the Democrats’ Jan. 6 committee spectacle continues apace, The Western Journal will keep you up to date with the latest news and analysis — all from a Christian, conservative perspective you won’t find in the mainstream media. If you support our work, please consider subscribing.)
Bolton, a national security expert and diplomat who served in the George W. Bush and Trump administrations (considerably more amicably in the former, it must be known), sat down with Jake Tapper to discuss the final days of the Trump White House.
Bolton said that “nothing Donald Trump did after the election in connection with the lie about election fraud — none of it is defensible.” However, he also faulted the Jan. 6 committee for how it was trying to frame Trump’s actions.
“It’s also a mistake, as some people have said … that somehow this was a carefully planned coup d’état aimed at the Constitution,” Bolton said.
“That’s not the way Donald Trump does things. It’s rambling from one half-vast idea to another. One plan that falls through, and another comes up. That’s what he was doing.”
“As I say, none of it defensible. But you have to understand the nature of what the problem of Donald Trump is. He’s — to use a ‘Star Wars’ metaphor — a disturbance in the Force,” he continued, telling Tapper it was “not an attack on our democracy” but “Donald Trump looking out for Donald Trump.”
A coup, Bolton said, needs “advance thinking, planning, strategizing, building up support.”
“One doesn’t have to be brilliant to attempt a coup,” Tapper shot back.
“I disagree with that,” Bolton said. “As somebody who has helped plan coups d’état, not here, but, you know, other places, it takes a lot of work.”
Jake Tapper: “One doesn’t have to be brilliant to attempt a coup.”
John Bolton: “I disagree with that. As somebody who has helped plan coup d’etat, not here, but other places, it takes a lot of work.” pic.twitter.com/REyqh3KtHi
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) July 12, 2022
You have to give it to him: Half a century into his political career and John Bolton is still John Boltoning as hard as that walrus-mustached man can.
At an age where most politicians are using an airbrush and copious amounts of Wite-Out to beautify their political legacy, Bolton is on cable news essentially telling Jake Tapper, “You call that a coup? All right, see, here’s how you really do it …”
Tapper, unsurprisingly, became slightly less fixated on the events of Jan. 6 after Bolton’s remark and asked about his “expertise having planned coups.”
“I’m not going to get into the specifics,” Bolton said with a laugh.
“Successful coups?” Tapper asked.
“Well, I wrote about Venezuela in the book,” Bolton responded, speaking of his 2020 memoir, “The Room Where It Happened.” “And it turned out not to be successful. Not that we had all that much to do with it, but I saw what it took for an opposition to try and overturn an illegally elected president, and they failed.”
Jake Tapper follows up on John Bolton’s past coup planning.
Bolton: “I’m not going to get into the specifics, but–“
Tapper: “Successful coups?”
Bolton brings up the failed Venezuelan coup, prompting Tapper to add: “I feel like there’s other stuff you’re not telling me.” pic.twitter.com/bJAa07h8Ow
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) July 12, 2022
Bolton was referring to the Trump administration’s attempt to have illegitimately elected Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro replaced with opposition leader Juan Guaidó, which didn’t quite work.
Neither did the relationship between Bolton and Trump, as you may have gathered from the interview.
Bolton claimed in his memoir that Trump held back military funding in Ukraine as part of a quid pro quo to investigate Hunter Biden’s activities within the country. He also — as you may have gathered from his interview with Tapper — wasn’t impressed by Trump’s intellect.
Trump, for his part, fired Bolton in 2019 and said he “should be in jail” for disclosing classified material in the book.
And it wasn’t just that; former Trump deputy national security advisor K.T. McFarland said Bolton “was so convinced of his superior intelligence that he was condescending to everyone, including the president. He was increasingly isolated within the West Wing; Cabinet officers ignored him and went behind his back directly to the president. He even avoided contact with his own National Security Council staff.”
One can definitely get that vibe from the man, yes.
Take all of the personal invective out of this, however, and there is a point, no matter how you feel about Bolton or Trump. The Jan. 6 committee, despite no opposition members allowed on the panel and a carefully orchestrated format, has arrived at no substantive narrative that implicates Trump or anyone in the administration in a coup that culminated in the Capitol incursion.
Instead, as Bolton said, the events of that day were “not an attack on our democracy” but a “once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.”
If the Democrats want to beat the drum about that for a few more rounds of prime-time hearings, go for it. Go to town. Let’s hear about all the scary Oath Keepers claims we can stuff into a few hours of live coverage. Maybe we can get a few more people who heard from someone who heard from someone else that Trump tried to grab the wheel of the presidential limo and go to the Capitol.
At the end of the day, what they have is neither a “coup” nor an “insurrection” on their hands. Take it from a guy who’s planned a few of them and hates Donald Trump’s guts.
Meanwhile, Americans will still be paying $5 a gallon for gas. Which do you think is going to resonate with voters this November?
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.