John Bolton describes working for Trump
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Ex-White House official John Bolton says he was “naive” to ever take up his post in Donald Trump’s administration, accusing the former President of a complete lack of “discipline” who only made decisions based on how they would benefit him. Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, the former National Security Advisor peeled back the curtain on his 17-month stint in the Trump White House and said he believes he was naive to think the former President could change.
Asked about his decision to take on the role in 2018, Bolton replied: “I get criticised for a lot of things, I rarely get criticised for being naive. I have to say knowing everything I knew about Trump, I saw the same thing everyone else did. I had met him before the 2016 campaign and watched him in office for a year.
“(But) I still thought that the pressures of dealing with national security on a day-to-day basis would bring the kind of discipline which would apply to every other president. And I thought if I could get in there, I could make this happen.
“I turned out to be completely wrong because he had no discipline.”
At the heart of the problem, he said, was Trump’s erratic decision making and lack of genuine political conviction. Key decisions made in the morning could be radically overhauled by lunch time, he claimed.
“It was like working inside a pinball machine,” he said. “He (Trump) doesn’t have a philosophy, he doesn’t think in policy terms, his decisions are transactional one time decisions seen through the prism of how does this benefit Donald Trump.
“People say ‘his policy on this, his policy on that’ – he didn’t have a policy.
“His decisions are like an archipelago of dots. You can try and draw lines between them and people do it all the time – but he couldn’t draw lines between them.
“The decision he made in the morning might not hold until the afternoon. It was hard to put together strategic thinking on a whole range of things.”
Trump had long-admired Republican veteran Bolton – describing him as a “tough cookie” – but their relationship soured during the tenure amid clashes on issues such as North Korea and Iran.
Bolton, who has worked for Ronald Reagan and both Bush presidents, wrote a best-selling book about his tumultuous spell in Trump’s White House, The Room Where It Happened.
In June 2016, the Trump administration unsuccessfully sought to block the release of the memoir, alleging Bolton had breached nondisclosure agreements and that it endangered national security. It was released a week later.
There has been no love lost between the pair since.
However, Bolton, who has been in the UK this week, told Express.co.uk that Trump did many things which pleased Republicans like him in the early days of his presidency.
Bolton noted that he appointed conservatives to key posts including the judiciary, cut taxes and tackled immigration problems, especially on the southern border with Mexico.
But he added: “These are also all things that any sensible Republican candidate would do as well.”
He said the recent revelation that the former President held a dinner at his Mar-a-Lago estate with Kanye West, who has been accused of anti-semitism, and Nick Fuentes, a notorious white supremacist, underline the former president’s lack of judgment and discipline.
“It has been disputed how he got in but this is a former President who doesn’t screen who he has come in (for dinner),” Bolton said. “If you believe he didn’t know – and he does have a loose relationship with the truth.
“He didn’t say I made a mistake and I am sorry because he doesn’t say I made a mistake and I’m sorry.”
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Bolton also claimed the former President has selective memory on issues when it suits him. He raised an example of how he and former Secretary of State Dan Pompeo had met opposition from Trump over Russian sanctions, forced him to agree to them and then Trump had used the policy as part of his own defence.
“We imposed a lot of sanctions on Russia which he opposed and, what would happen, [is] Pompeo and I – and others – would go and say this is what we want to do,” Bolton said.
“He would grumble and mull over Ukraine and conspiracy and then he would finally sign.
“He would complain about it later too.
“Then he would be criticised for being too friendly to Putin and he would say ‘my government has put more sanctions on Russia than anyone else’.
“He remembered what was convenient to remember.”
“In my book I said that it was like working inside a pinball machine.
“He doesn’t have a philosophy, he doesn’t think in policy terms, his decisions are transactional one time decisions seen through the prism of how does this benefit Donald Trump.
“People say his policy on this, his policy on that, he didn’t have a policy.
“His decisions are like an archipelago of dots. You can try and draw lines between them and people do it all the time, he couldn’t draw lines between them.
“Besides the decision he made in the morning might not hold until the afternoon. It was hard to put together strategic thinking on a whole range of things.”
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