- Former National Security Advisor John Bolton said Putin was “waiting” for Trump to withdraw the US from NATO.
- He previously warned that Trump would have withdrawn from the alliance if he’d won a 2nd term.
- Bolton also said Trump’s “main interest” in Ukraine was trying to “find Hillary Clinton’s computer server.”
Former National Security Advisor John Bolton said on Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was waiting for former President Donald Trump to withdraw the United States from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization if he had won a second term.
Bolton made the remarks during a virtual event with the Washington Post on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where Bolton mostly offered critiques of current President Joe Biden’s foreign policy in the region. At the end of the event, he was asked by the Post’s Michael Duffy about how close Trump came to withdrawing the country from NATO, a translantic security alliance that includes the United States, Canada, and most of Europe.
“I thought he put his foot over it, but at least he didn’t withdraw then,” said Bolton, who wrote in his memoir about Trump’s consideration of withdrawing from NATO in 2018. “In a second Trump term, I think he may well have withdrawn from NATO. And I think Putin was waiting for that.”
Trump viewed NATO as a liability during his presidency, believing that European countries were not paying enough of their fair share of the burden of providing defense to the alliance. Bolton, a State Department official during the George W. Bush administration, was brought on to be Trump’s national security advisor in 2018 only to be ousted a year and a half later.
Bolton’s latest comments come just days after he told Newsmax that Trump “barely knew where Ukraine was,” pushing back on a host who said the former president had been “tough on Russia.”
Asked whether he was satisfied by how the Trump administration handled Ukraine, Bolton criticized his former boss.
“I think it went very badly,” said Bolton. “It was hard to have discussions on geostrategic issues when the president’s main interest was getting… Rudy Giuliani in to see [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky so they could go find Hillary Clinton’s computer server.
He added that Ukraine’s position in the “maelstrom of American presidential politics” in the last few years made it difficult for Zelensky to establish a proper relationship with the United States, which Bolton said was Ukraine’s “potentially most important supporter.”
Trump was impeached for the first time over his withholding of $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure Zelensky to launch an investigation into Biden and his son Hunter over allegations of corruption.
Bolton said on Friday that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper were concerned by Trump’s behavior at the time. “All of us felt that we needed to bolster Ukraine security, and were appalled at what Trump was doing,” he said.