During a CNN appearance on Tuesday, Republican hawk John Bolton pushed back on claims that Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election amounted to a “carefully planned coup.” As the former national security adviser for Trump and the ambassador to the United Nations for George W. Bush during the Iraq War, he would know. “As somebody who has helped plan coups d’état — not here, but other places — it takes a lot of work,” Bolton told Jake Tapper. “And that’s not what [Trump] did.”
Tapper didn’t immediately stop Bolton, who worked in the last four Republican administrations, when he admitted orchestrating coups abroad. Eventually, though, the CNN host asked his guest to elaborate, and Bolton pointed to the attempted effort in 2019 by Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to overthrow the government of President Nicolás Maduro. (At the time, Bolton publicly said the plot, which the Trump administration supported, was “not a coup.”) When Tapper asked him if “there’s other stuff you’re not telling me,” Bolton played coy: “I think I’m sure there is.”
Putting aside the one or two (or seven) coups the U.S. did over the last century, most lifetime members of the foreign-policy blob might think it’s ill-advised to go on cable and use that word to describe recent American interventions abroad. It certainly wasn’t a gaffe, like George Bush’s brain-melter in May in which he referred to “the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq.”
This wasn’t some guilty admission from Bolton either. This is a man so hawkish that he left the Trump administration because he wouldn’t let him draw up the plans to invade another country. In fact, he was laughing with Tapper about it.