Longtime Republican official John Bolton admitted during a televised interview Tuesday that he has helped plan coups outside of the United States.
Bolton, who served as former President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, appeared on CNN to discuss the congressional committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
After Bolton claimed that Trump’s lies about the 2020 presidential election that provoked last year’s Capitol attack were not part of “a carefully planned coup d’état aimed at the Constitution,” host Jake Tapper said that “I don’t know that I agree with you, to be fair, with all due respect. One doesn’t have to be brilliant to attempt a coup.”
Bolton responded that “I disagree with that. As somebody who has helped plan coups d’état, not here, but, you know, other places, it takes a lot of work. And that’s not what he did.”
Jake Tapper follows up on John Bolton's past coup planning.
Bolton: "I’m not going to get into the specifics, but–"
Tapper: "Successful coups?"
Bolton brings up the failed Venezuelan coup, prompting Tapper to add: "I feel like there’s other stuff you’re not telling me." pic.twitter.com/bJAa07h8Ow
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) July 12, 2022
Tapper followed up on coup comments, and Bolton — who also held roles in the administrations of former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush — initially said that “I’m not gonna get into the specifics.”
Bolton then pointed out that in his recently released book, he wrote about the failed effort to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in 2019. The Trump administration notably backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
However, as reporters and others — such as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) — were quick to highlight, Bolton has a long history of supporting such efforts.
As HuffPost detailed Tuesday:
In 2004, while Bolton was serving in the State Department, the U.S. faced allegations of backing the overthrow of Haiti’s president. A former French ambassador told The New York Times this year that the U.S. and France had “effectively orchestrated” the coup.
Bolton has a long history of advocating for coups and supporting regime change plots. He advocated for regime change in Iraq ahead of a war he helped orchestrate and said in 2018 that the United States should overthrow the government of Iran.
Critics of Bolton shared a range of reactions on social media.
Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch tweeted that “I’ve been investigating U.S. imperialism for decades, and…he…just…blurted…it…out.”
It’s a wild quote because he admits on camera to planning coups while declaring he’s brilliant.
Apparently not brilliant enough to not admit that on camera!
— Nina Turner (@ninaturner) July 12, 2022
“America in one clip,” More Perfect Union’s Jordan Zakarin said of the interview, describing Bolton as “a bloodthirsty right-wing war hawk” who was given a platform to “brazenly admit to secret war crimes without worrying about any consequences whatsoever.”
“It’s just a little oopsies, a meme for a few days,” Zakarin added, declaring that “this is even more embarrassing for CNN.”
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