John Bolton: Putin was ‘waiting’ for possible US withdrawal from NATO

Former national security adviser John Bolton said on Friday that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin was “waiting” for a possible United States withdrawal from NATO, claiming former President Trump would have likely made such a move had he been reelected.

Bolton, during a Washington Post Live event, was asked about his memoir, in which he claimed that Trump wanted to leave the military alliance in 2018. The newspaper’s Opinions Editor-at-Large Michael Duffy asked him how close Trump was to withdrawing the United States from NATO.

“Yeah, I had my heart in my throat at that NATO meeting. I didn’t know what the president would do. He called me up to his seat seconds before he gave his speech. And I said, ‘Look, go right up to the line, but don’t go over it,’ ” Bolton replied.

“I sat back down, I had no idea what he’d do. I thought he’d put his foot over it, but at least he didn’t withdraw then,” he continued. “In a second Trump term, I think he may well have withdrawn from NATO, and I think Putin was waiting for that.”

Taylor Budowich, a spokesperson for Trump, knocked Bolton’s comments.

“John Bolton is only happy when America is at war. President Trump led America into one of the most peaceful times in U.S. history, which included growing investment into NATO by $50 billion,” he said in a statement. “John Bolton is just mad he was fired before it could be spent.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who was asked about Bolton’s remarks during a press briefing on Friday, claimed most Americans were “grateful” that President Biden’s approach to global engagement is different than Trump’s.

“I saw those comments —  you know, another reason why the American people are grateful — the majority of the American people — that President Biden has not taken a page out of his predecessors’ playbook as it relates to global engagement and global leadership, because, certainly, we could be in a different place,” she said.

Updated at 9:15 a.m.

Tags Donald Trump Donald Trump Jen Psaki Joe Biden John Bolton John Bolton NATO Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin

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