Evan Vucci/AP

Analysis: John Bolton Knows What He’s Doing

The former national security adviser’s secrets are valuable, and will come at a cost.

John Bolton, Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, announced the title of his forthcoming memoir last night: The Room Where It Happened, a reference to the Oval Office, the scene of some of the misdeeds he is likely to attribute to the president. (I had hoped for something jauntier, perhaps ’Stached in the Cabinet.) Accompanying that announcement was a story in The New York Times teasing readers with revelations. The most significant is that Trump allegedly conditioned his release of Ukrainian military aid not only on that country’s announcement of an investigation into Hunter and Joe Biden, but also on its release of evidence of the Biden family’s involvement in Robert Mueller’s probe. In fact, there is no such evidence, and the only people who believe that there is such evidence are wing-nut conspiracy theorists and, it seems, the president of the United States.


My colleague David Frum appealed to Bolton’s patriotism a few months ago, asking him to speak freely about Trump. Frum is Bolton’s former colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, so I suspect he knew that appealing to Bolton’s selfless, wholly unremunerated goodwill is about as likely to be successful as asking him for a foot massage. Bolton left office in an embarrassing and undignified way, having been canned by Trump and insulted by Trump’s key informal adviser, Tucker Carlson. (Carlson, a Bolton hater for years, called him a “tapeworm” and told Trump to ignore his advice.) Bolton’s secrets are therefore valuable in numerous ways: They got him a huge book deal; they position him as an insider able to command high speaking fees before rapt right-wing audiences; and finally, they make him a feared enemy of Trump and his allies. For Bolton to surrender these advantages for free, to the advantage not of himself but of liberals with whom he agrees on little, would be for Bolton to stop being Bolton.

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