In an exclusive interview with Business Insider on Monday, Donald Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton addressed a number of incidents that he claimed showed his ex-boss's unpreparedness for the presidency, hot on the heels of his explosive memoir about his short stint in the White House.
One of them, according to the ousted 71-year-old official, is the 2018 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, during which Trump refused to accuse Russia of interfering in the 2016 election, noting he saw no reason why the Kremlin would have meddled.
"I was sitting in the audience with Chief of Staff John Kelly, and we were both frozen to our chairs", Bolton told Business Insider, saying they couldn’t believe their own ears when they heard what Trump said.
"And we spent a good part of the flight on Air Force One back to Washington trying to explain to the president why he was getting such a negative reaction from the press back in Washington", Bolton went on, recounting how POTUS "didn't seem to understand that people might be upset that he equated what Putin said with what our intelligence community said".
The claims came months after Special Counsel Rober Mueller, appointed to investigate allegations of Russia's meddling in the US election, found insufficient evidence of collusion during the 2016 campaign.
Russian officials have for their part repeatedly refuted the accusations, saying Moscow has never meddled in US domestic affairs.
Bolton, who Donald Trump said had to leave his closely-knit team because he "disagreed strongly" with many of his decisions, recently rolled out a tell-all book titled "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir", in which he portrayed POTUS as a person unfit for the country's top post.
Speaking to Business Insider, he hit back at Trump's statement over his ouster, claiming it was actually he who resigned, having considered it several times prior to finally making the decision.
"I used to say I was the national security adviser, not the national security decision-maker", Bolton said Monday, going on:
"[…] it's part of the price of having … the honour of presenting your points of view is you're going to have to accept things that you find contrary to your beliefs. And you bear that as long as you can, and then you resign, which is what I did".
The Trump administration sued Bolton to prevent him from publishing the book citing classified information it could contain, but a US court ultimately allowed the publication of the memoir, condemned by POTUS as "lies and fake stories" made up by an "incompetent" and "disgruntled" ousted official.