Well, it wasn’t entirely unexpected. As we’ve seen time and time again, be it to support the Russia narrative or just to hurt the president in whatever way possible, a perfectly-timed “bombshell” leak has emerged alleging wrongdoing that could “change everything.”
This time, it comes from the pen of John Bolton, who, in a manuscript of a book delivered to the porous White House National Security Council , alleges a conversation between himself and the president that would seem to support the Dims’ impeachment case.
But does it?
In this piece we’ll examine key points that call into question just how much of a “bombshell” this really is, and the possible motivations behind it.
The Failing New York Times
If there’s one thing the Failing New York Times succeeds at, it’s being a willing partner in Democrat/Swamp propaganda. This is no exception.
The first thing we need to understand is that there are no direct quotes in the NYT story. The NYT themselves have not seen the manuscript or anything from it. As always, their reporting is based on insubordinate administration officials who have taken to leaking info in order to hurt the president; this time, an NSC official. The official in charge of reviewing manuscripts submitted to the NSC is LTC Yevgeny Vindman, the twin brother of our self-styled savior LTC Alexander Vindman, who testified to his policy differences with the administration during the House impeachment proceedings as if they mattered. Yevgeny Vindman claims not to have seen this particular manuscript. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether he’s credible.
So as of now, we have no real idea whether what is being insinuated has any resemblance to reality. We’re forced to take the NYT’s word on it, which is a shaky proposition at best. It is worth noting, however, that neither Bolton nor anyone from his camp has denied the reporting.
That said, let’s examine what is causing all this fuss. First, here is the excerpt which the NYT itself refers to as the “key to Mr. Bolton’s account.” I’ve taken the liberty of emboldening and italicizing key language.
Key to Mr. Bolton’s account about Ukraine is an exchange during a meeting in August with the president after Mr. Trump returned from vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. Mr. Bolton raised the $391 million in congressionally appropriated assistance to Ukraine for its war in the country’s east against Russian-backed separatists. Officials had frozen the aid, and a deadline was looming to begin sending it to Kyiv, Mr. Bolton noted.
He, Mr. Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper had collectively pressed the president about releasing the aid nearly a dozen times in the preceding weeks after lower-level officials who worked on Ukraine issues began complaining about the holdup, Mr. Bolton wrote. Mr. Trump had effectively rebuffed them, airing his longstanding grievances about Ukraine, which mixed legitimate efforts by some Ukrainians to back his Democratic 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, with unsupported accusations and outright conspiracy theories about the country, a key American ally.
Note that the entire case Dims are putting forth is based on the president using military aid in order to affect the upcoming election. The fact that Bolton himself acknowledges that President Trump’s withholding of aid was at least partially based on longstanding grievances undermines the narrative that his focus was purely focused on the 2020 election. To the contrary, Bolton’s account reveals that the president was more concerned with the 2016 election than anything else.
Furthermore, even if the accusations against Hillary Clinton are “unsupported” and “outright conspiracy theories” as the NYT claims (pretty rich language coming from RussiaGate headquarters), it’s just further proof that the president was looking to corruption emanating from the 2016 election, thereby destroying the election interference narrative that has been pushed from the beginning.
And oh, by the way….Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary is far from an outlandish conspiracy theory. Feel free to read this piece for the true story that the NYT would like to ignore.
That’s not the only issue with the NYT piece, however. Bolton allegedly paints a picture of an entire administration in cahoots to pressure Ukraine into (somehow) handing the election to President Trump. A key figure in this entire drama is Mick Mulvaney, who, as White House Chief of Staff, is around the president all day long and privy to many of the goings-on around the Oval Office. As such, Bolton and his newfound Dim allies would need some sort of goodies on Mulvaney, since it would make no sense to have zero corroboration from the man who should know better than everyone not named Trump.
The article reads thusly:
And the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, was present for at least one phone call where the president and Mr. Giuliani discussed the ambassador, Mr. Bolton wrote.
Yet Mulvaney tells a different story. This statement was released today through his lawyer:
Secretary of State Pompeo is also mentioned, though mostly in the capacity of taking up for the then-Ambassador Yovanovitch and telling the president that Rudy Giuliani was attacking her for personal reasons, namely to protect his clients. Whether this is accurate or not, it has little to do with any evidence relating to impeachment. If President Trump wanted to fire an ambassador because a leprechaun came to him in a dream and demanded him do so, he could. He’s the president. She’s a State Department employee, which is part of the executive branch. It’s his prerogative.
So, as you can see, the NYT story is not in itself some sort of smoking gun of presidential corruption, despite what the Fake News screams from the mountain tops.
Now that we’ve examined the substance of the report, let’s take a look at its originator, Mr. Bolton.
Full disclosure: I was once a believer in John Bolton.
I didn’t necessarily agree with his foreign policy vision, though I do agree that America must project strength on the world stage. Rather, I thought he was important for the Trump administration. With Trump taking over a world made dangerous at every turn due to the fecklessness of Barack Obama, I felt it necessary for the president to have a “hawk” at his side, mostly so that our foes—North Korea, Iran, etc—would know that our president had someone in his ear who embraced the use of American force.
Furthermore, due to what I’d read over the years, I believed Bolton to be a loyal soldier type. While he’s known to be hard on subordinates, nothing I’d ever seen or heard suggested that he would undermine the administration for which he worked. I knew that he would butt heads with Trump, as the two are polar opposites in terms of their foreign policy world views. Trump is a very hesitant trigger man, whereas Bolton could best be described as Slim Pickens riding the bomb in Dr. Strangelove.
I began to question that perception fairly soon into his term as National Security Advisor, March of 2018 to be exact.
President Trump was preparing for a historic meeting with Kim Jong Un, one in which Kim would reportedly commit to “complete denuclearization.” While the declaration was rightly met with cautious optimism, as North Korea has a terrible track record of keeping its word, it was unprecedented for the regime to even consider such a declaration, and as such gave us hope of reaching a peaceful solution to a growingly dangerous nuclear standoff.
Then, just weeks before the historic Singapore Summit was to take place, then-NSA John Bolton sat down for an interview in which he gave his decidedly unhelpful view of the ongoing talks between the US and NK.
“I think we should insist that if this meeting is going to take place,” Bolton said, “it will be similar to discussions we had with Libya 13 or 14 years ago: How to pack up their nuclear weapons program and take it to Oak Ridge [National Laboratory in Tennessee], which is where the Libyan nuclear program [is now].”
Bolton went on to praise the “Libya model” and suggested it be the way to go for North Korea.
Anyone who knows anything about foreign policy over the last decade knows what a disastrous statement that was to make before peace talks with a nuclear leader. If you’ll recall, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi gave up his entire nuclear program to the Bush administration following our invasion of Iraq. Panicked by the fate of Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi allowed full inspections and disarmament. This was a big deal; one that would serve as a model for future regimes who the civilized world would rather not have nukes.
Then, Hillary Clinton came along and made arguably the worst foreign policy blunder of the last 50 years by supporting the overthrow of Gaddafi. The reasons for the overthrow are complicated and time-consuming, but suffice it to say, Hillary made it extremely hard for future presidents like Trump to negotiate with rogue regimes who threaten the world with nuclear weapons.
Needless to say, Dear Leader Kim took quick notice of Bolton’s remarks and demanded that Bolton be removed from the Trump administration before talks could go forward in earnest. When Kim hears that the president’s chief national security advisor is fond of the Libya model for dealing with North Korea, it’s not images of paperwork and handshakes that come to mind. It’s Gaddafi’s lifeless body being dragged through the streets after giving up his weapons to the United States.
Any national security advisor, much less one as experienced as Bolton, would have to know how irresponsible it was to inject Gaddafi into a conversation about a country giving up its nukes. While it’s impossible to know to what degree, it’s reasonable to assume that his remarks have deeply hurt our negotiations.
My reason for telling this story is to show that Bolton has proved himself willing to damage our security apparatus for the sake of getting his own way, or worse, as sour grapes for losing a White House argument. Bolton felt that meeting Kim Jong Un was a foolish and naive move that gave Kim far more in validation than we received in deliverable denuclearization. That’s his right to feel that way. Unfortunately, he wasn’t content to merely fight another day. Rather, he kneecapped the president going into the most sensitive discussions a president can have. That episode provided a window into Bolton’s soul that is revealing itself anew today.
Once thought a wise, tough, steady hand as NSA, Bolton proved himself to be little more than a petulant child; one who would rather burn down a house than see it restored according to someone else’s design.
Taking that episode into account, let’s now examine what has happened over the last 24 hours.
If we’re to believe Bolton and his publisher, there is absolutely no connection between his book, the timing of the leak and an effort to hurt the president. It just so happened that after Trump’s legal team dismantled Schiff’s drivel and impeachment was all but done, a manuscript appeared to breathe new life into the Dims’ case and put the GOP on the ropes. What amazing luck!
The Failing NYT story is written by Michael Schmidt and Maggie Haberman. Schmidt is the man who got the Jim Comey leak stories, Maggie Haberman is the one who infamously was named in the Wikileaks emails as the person who would “tee things up” for the Democrats that needed teeing up.
Not only did Bolton go with Comey’s publisher, who is a pro at this sort of thing, but whaddayaknow, the book ordering preorder link popped up almost immediately after the NYT story hit. If an author and his publisher wanted to devise a scheme to maximize sales as much as possible, this would be it. But again, I’m sure it’s all coincidence.
Then, there’s the timing of the book itself. While researching for this piece, I couldn’t find an instance of a book like this (meaning an adult book about serious issues) being completed within a couple months, then hitting bookshelves within 3-4 months. Yet that’s exactly what Bolton has managed to do.
His manuscript was delivered to the White House National Security Council during the same late-December time period in which impeachment articles were being held up en route to the Senate. So what we have here is a National Security Advisor who rushed straight from the White House after being fired, jumped on a typewriter and completed a work of massive import in record time. Just in time, in fact, to potentially alter the course of the impeachment process forever.
So many darn coincidences.
Are we to believe that Bolton had no inkling whatsoever that his manuscript could be leaked to the press, despite knowing full well from his own experience that the NSC is full of leakers who are out to get the president? If so, he’s the dumbest man to ever serve in an advisory capacity. I doubt that’s the case, though.
Just as he kneecapped the president just before he was to have one of the most consequential summits with a foreign leader in modern history, Bolton has shown once again that he doesn’t mind throwing the country into chaos for his own selfish reasons, likely revenge.
This will be his legacy, and it will be well deserved.
There isn’t much to add in the way of an aerial view, other than to say this will not result in the removal of President Trump. The best case scenario for Democrats is to win an up and down vote on Friday to force witness subpoenas. If that takes place, Republicans will counter with witnesses that will shed light on the Bidens’ corruption, thereby proving the president had ample reason to be weary of what was happening in Ukraine.
If witnesses are called, the White House will in all likelihood exert executive privilege, which means weeks and possibly months of litigation to decide whether witnesses will be allowed to appear. While this will be spun as the president orchestrating a coverup, the truth is executive privilege is a precious asset of any presidential administration and should not be taken lightly, Bolton’s own former chief of staff wrote an op-ed in Fox News today asking that Bolton withdraw his book for the good of the country, as no one that close to the president should be disclosing his discussions.
But as we’ve covered in this piece, the good of the country is not atop Bolton’s list of priorities.
In summary, I think Rudy Giuliani summed it up best when asked today about the latest plot:
“While Bolton was trying to figure out who to invade or unsuccessfully overthrow, Ukrainians and Americans stole almost anything not nailed down, I used to like and respect John and tell people they were wrong about how irresponsible he was. I was wrong.”
Me too, Rudy. Me too.
If you feel that I’ve earned a donation, please click the box below. If you would like to pay more than $1, simply increase the number of donations in the area provided. I’m profoundly grateful for any support you can offer. Thank you so much and keep fighting the good fight! Venmo: @trey-vaught