- Ex-National Security Advisor John Bolton said world leaders saw Trump as a “laughing fool” on CNN.
- Bolton rejected Trump’s claims that he could have stopped Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had he won reelection.
- “The idea that somehow his presence in office would have deterred Putin is flatly wrong,” he said.
Former National Security Advisor John Bolton on Tuesday said that foreign leaders saw former President Donald Trump as a “laughing fool” and rejected his ex-boss’s claims that he could have stopped Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine had he still been in office last year.
During an interview on “CNN This Morning,” Bolton — an experienced diplomat and defense hawk who served under Trump from April 2018 to September 2019 — pushed back against assertions that the former president made about Ukraine last week as he participated in the network’s controversial town hall. While speaking with journalist Kaitlan Collins, Trump said that Russia would not have invaded Ukraine had he been in the Oval Office and also said that he could “settle” the conflict in 24 hours if voters send him back to office — both highly questionable claims for a war the US is not a direct participant in.
Bolton, while speaking with Collins and journalist Poppy Harlow, quickly rejected such talk.
“Trump has this impression that foreign leaders, especially adversaries, hold him in high regard — that he’s got a good relationship with Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un,” Bolton said of the leaders of China, Russia, and North Korea, respectively.
“In fact, the exact opposite is true,” he continued. “I have been in those rooms with him when he met with those leaders. I believe they think he’s a laughing fool and the idea that somehow his presence in office would have deterred Putin is flatly wrong.”
Bolton then said that if Trump had won reelection in 2020, the former president’s push to weaken NATO would have aided Russia in their quest to take over Ukraine.
“If anything, if Trump had won a second term and done what I think he intended to do which is get out of NATO, Putin would have just waited and let him do it,” he said. “Even the weakening of NATO would have it made a lot easier for the Russians to have prevailed.”
Bolton, who served as US ambassador to the United Nations under former President George W. Bush, has been a huge critic of Trump since leaving the administration. The diplomat, while on CBS News just last month, said that it was a “big mistake, politically” for the GOP to continue aligning itself with Trump headed into 2024.
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