“Having seen Trump for 17 months, I cannot in good conscience vote for him.”
5 min read
In an exclusive interview with “Good Morning America,” John Bolton, a former national security adviser to President Trump, condemned the president and said he hoped the story would remember him as “an aberration.”
“His policymaking is so incoherent, so unfocused, so unstructured, so wrapped up in his own personal political fortune, that mistakes are being made that will have dire consequences for the national security of the United States,” Bolton told George Stephanopoulos on Monday. .
After spending 17 months at Trump’s side for historic summits and daily meetings, Bolton is speaking in his new book “The Room Where It Happened.” Bolton also sat down for a special interview with Martha Raddatz of ABC News that aired on Sunday.
But the reaction was swift against Bolton, who declined to testify before House lawmakers during impeachment hearings. He later said he would appear as a witness before the Senate during Trump’s trial, but Republicans blocked a vote to call witnesses.
Bolton has rejected the criticism by blaming House Democrats for what he called a hasty and politicized handling of the investigation.
“The Democrats made a conscious decision at the beginning of Ukraine’s impeachment effort to alienate the Republicans. I think there were many Republicans in the House who could have been open to a more rational and nonpartisan effort,” Bolton said.
He declined to say Monday whether he would testify now if he is subpoenaed by Congress, rather than pay attention to the November presidential election.
“The main way we control presidents is not through impeachment,” Bolton argued. “It is through elections, and presidential behavior can be reckless, reprehensible, dangerous.”
Bolton announced during Sunday’s special that he will not vote for Trump, adding on Monday that “the Democratic Party will not be changed. I am still a conservative Republican of nerves.”
Instead, he will write the name of a conservative politician in November.
That contrasts with what Bolton told voters in 2016 when he supported Trump’s candidacy, saying voting for a third-party candidate was voting for Hillary Clinton.
“After seeing Donald Trump for 17 months, I can’t vote in good conscience for him, and I think there are many other Republicans who feel the same way. This is not a happy choice for conservatives,” Bolton said.
Bolton said he is laying the groundwork for discussions within the Republican Party on “what the post-Trump party will be like,” adding that will happen if Trump wins or loses in November.
In the days since details of Bolton’s book began leaking, Trump and his allies have attacked him. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called him a “traitor” and accused him of lying, charges Bolton dismissed.
“He is responding in the same way as President Trump, they say names, they deny, but they are not willing to face the real facts,” Bolton said.
The Trump administration also accused Bolton of revealing classified information in his book. A federal judge appeared to agree on Saturday, ruling that the Justice Department cannot block publication of his book, but cautioned that Bolton “has exposed his country to harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability.”
Bolton said Monday that he and his attorneys “respectfully disagree” with the judge.