John Bolton's complete reversal on Russia, in one tweet
John Bolton, President Donald Trumpâs national security adviser, seems to have undergone quite a transformation.
The evidence comes from a statement he made on Wednesday announcing Trumpâs desire to postpone a meeting planned for the fall with Russian President Vladimir Putin. âThe president believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over,â Bo lton said, âso weâve agreed that it will be after the first of the year.â
The key words there, in case you missed it, are âwitch hunt.â
At first glance, it may not seem surprising that a Trump staffer would use one of the presidentâs favorite insults to describe special counsel Robert Muellerâs investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow to win the 2016 presidential election.(According to NBC News, Trump has tweeted the phrase 89 times as of Wednesday.)
But the New Yorkerâs Susan Glasser summed up perfectly why Boltonâs statement was so stunning â" and alarming.
Thatâs truly amazing. Before Bolton joined Trumpâs White House, he established himself as a foreign policy hawk in previous Republican administrations and conservative intellectual circles. And while most of his ire seems directed at Iran and North Korea â" heâs advocated for war with each country at various times â" heâs also spared no sympathy for Russia.
As Glasser mentions in her tweet, Bolton referred to Russiaâs interference in the 2016 US election as âa true act of war, and one Washington will never tolerateâ last July.
The Washington Post also pointed out that Bolton used to criticize someone Trump admires:
Bolton also has a long history of making comments about the Russian president personally, suggesting a number of times that Putin has lied about global events. In response to Russiaâs handling of the situation involving National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden in 2013, Bolton told Fox News that âwe need to do things that cause [Putin] pain as well.â
Itâs of course possible â" more than likely, really â" that Trump personally dictated the statement himself. If thatâs the case, Bolton would be hard pressed to tell the president he wouldnât use âwitch huntâ in an official statement.
But itâs also not the first ti me Bolton did something he probably didnât want to do. Bolton has advocated for striking North Korea over its nuclear program; North Korea, in return, has called him âhuman scum.â Yet during Trumpâs historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Bolton found himself shaking hands with the dictator (see the photo on the left).
So after just over two months as Trumpâs top national security aide, Bolton has had to act against his stated views on Russia (and North Korea). His latest statement is just another example of how time with the president has changed him.
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