Former national security adviser John Bolton reportedly suggested that President Donald Trump made policy decisions based on his personal and financial interests as he criticized his former boss’ approach to relations between Turkey and the U.S.
Bolton cast doubt on the president’s understanding of the interconnectedness of foreign relations and the need for consistency during a private speech in Miami last week, according to NBC News, which cited several individuals who were present during Bolton’s remarks. He also reportedly suggested that the president approaches foreign policy issues like real estate deals.
Bolton specifically took aim at Trump’s reluctance to impose economic sanctions on Turkey after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan purchased a Russian missile-defense system, especially given the bipartisan support in Congress for the measure, according to the news outlet. He reportedly said he believes there is a personal or business relationship guiding Trump’s approach to Turkey, as none of his advisers see eye-to-eye with the president on the issue.
Erdoğan is set to visit the White House on Wednesday, roughly a month after Trump agreed to withdraw U.S. troops from northeast Syria, clearing a path for Turkish forces to attack America’s Kurdish allies in the region. Trump’s decision, followed by an order for all U.S. troops to exit Syria, was widely criticized — even among the president’s Republican allies in Congress.
During his closed-door remarks, Bolton also allegedly took jabs at the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and daughter, Ivanka Trump, both of whom are senior White House advisers. He reportedly suggested that the pair could convince the president to “rewrite his legacy” and nominate a liberal to the Supreme Court, such as Harvard Law professor Lawrence Tribe, who was a legal adviser to former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.
Bolton, who served as Trump’s national security adviser for 17 months, has kept out of the public eye since he departed the administration on Sept. 10 amid disagreements with the president. His exit capped a tumultuous tenure marked by deep rifts between an unconventional president seeking bloodless foreign policy wins and a strident interventionist, who was skeptical of the president’s agenda and had clashed with top administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry into the president consider Bolton a key witness. Lawmakers have called on Bolton to testify behind closed doors, but the fiery foreign policy veteran has declined to appear voluntarily. His lawyer, Charles Cooper, wrote in a letter to House Democrats last week that Bolton had been present for “many relevant meetings and conversations” on Ukraine, including some which have yet to be disclosed to impeachment investigators. Cooper said his client was willing to testify — if a federal court rules that he can defy the White House’s position that he cannot speak to Congress.
Bolton’s deputies have testified that he was angry about efforts to pressure Ukraine to open investigations into Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden. He allegedly described Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer and former mayor of New York, as a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.”