Former US National Security Adviser John Bolton has spoken out for the first time since the presidential trial, taking a chance to tease his soon-to-come-out book.
As soon as the the question arose about his former boss, Bolton, who was taking the floor at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina on Monday night, abstained from going into further detail, hinting that he faced restrictions as to what he could say.
Livestreaming or any type of recording was not allowed at the event, with interviewer Peter Feaver, a university professor of political science and public policy, understood to have informed the audience that the restrictions were due to Bolton’s contract specifics. However, reporters present at the university didn’t hesitate to livetweet Bolton’s answers to Feaver’s questions.
Asked about Trump’s rants regarding him, Bolton is reported to have dropped "nice try", acknowledging he could not comment at a time when the White House is reviewing the manuscript of his upcoming book for any classified information the book contains. “He tweets, but I can’t talk about it. How fair is that?” he said, according to one reporter present.
Bolton, asked to comment on Trump's tweets about him, says "Nice try" and says he can't comment pending the White House review of his manuscript. "He tweets, but I can’t talk about it. How fair is that?" He declined to explain why he can't talk about it.— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) February 17, 2020
When the interviewer wondered what it was like to stand by Trump at the 2018 meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Bolton is reported to have dropped: “To pursue the right policies for America, I was willing to put up with a lot".
Bolton, asked what it was like to staff Trump's meeting with Putin in Helsinki in 2018, says: "To pursue the right policies for America, I was willing to put up with a lot."— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) February 17, 2020
"I’m not asking for martyrdom," he adds. "I knew, I think I knew, what I was getting into."
“I’m not asking for martyrdom", he was quoted as saying. “I knew, I think I knew, what I was getting into".
Throughout the exchange, the former top White House official reportedly referenced his soon-to-be-published memoir, instead of directly answering questions.
“I could read a chapter form my book here and give you the answer to that question", the ex-national security adviser reportedly added about the Helsinki meeting.
Asked whether he agreed with Trump that his 25 July call was “perfect”, he followed along the same lines: “You will love chapter 14”, while not completely ruling out “censorship” vis-a-vis the book.
“This is an effort to write history … We’ll see what happens with the censorship", he said.
Meanwhile, outside the venue where Bolton was speaking, a crowd gathered for a “The People v John Bolton Rally”, with the Facebook event page portraying Bolton as the “architect of the Iraq war, Islamophobe and war criminal” and calling out Duke University for hosting him as an “esteemed speaker”.
Excerpts from Bolton’s book started being leaked to the press as an impeachment trial against President Trump was in full swing. Bolton himself stated he would testify if subpoenaed in the proceedings, which ultimately saw POTUS acquitted both charges - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
In January, President Donald Trump took aim at John Bolton a few times over the latter’s leaked manuscript, accusing the former national security advisor of poor judgement and dubbing his unpublished book “nasty and untrue". On one occasion, after the latest leak, enlisting Bolton’s strivings and occupations, Trump ranted that had he listened to all Bolton told him to do, it would have landed the US in “World War Six".
“For a guy who couldn’t get approved for the Ambassador to the UN years ago, couldn’t get approved for anything since, ‘begged’ me for a non-Senate approved job, which I gave him despite many saying ‘Don’t do it, sir’, takes the job, mistakenly says ‘Libyan Model’ on TV, and many more mistakes of judgment, gets fired because frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now, and goes out and IMMEDIATELY writes a nasty & untrue book. All Classified National Security. Who would do this?” Trump fumed.
Earlier, in a separate leak, Bolton, who was fired in September due to not seeing eye to eye with President Trump on policy issues, claimed the president had told him that he wanted to freeze $391 million in military aid to Ukraine until Kiev assisted him with an investigation into the allegedly corrupt activities of the Biden family in Ukraine. Trump rejected the claims, accusing his former advisor of trying to “sell a book” whatever it takes. As Trump stated, the publicly available transcript of his telephone calls with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky contained "all the proof that is needed” to bust Bolton’s claims.
The controversial book is scheduled to see the light of day under the title “The Room Where it Happened” next month.