National Security

John Bolton says he’s been involved in planning coups: ‘It takes a lot of work’

Former Trump national security adviser John Bolton said during an appearance on CNN that he has helped plan coups in other countries while arguing that former President Trump’s actions leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack did not amount to a coup attempt.

Bolton told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday that Trump’s actions to overturn the election results were indefensible but added that the former president was a “disturbance in the force” rather than a leader of an “attack on our democracy.

Bolton said he disagrees with the premise that Trump attempted a coup, which he said requires cunning and elaborate planning.

“That’s not the way Donald Trump does things,” Bolton said. “It’s rambling from one … idea to another, one plan that falls through, and another comes up.” 

“As somebody who has helped plan coup d’état, not here but other places, it takes a lot of work, and that’s not what he did,” Bolton added. 

He said Trump did “unleash” the rioters on the Capitol, but it was not to overthrow the Constitution and instead was to give himself more time to challenge the results in state legislatures. 

Tapper later pressed Bolton to clarify what he was referencing in his comment about having planned coups. Bolton cited a failed 2019 Venezuelan coup attempt against President Nicolás Maduro, though he added that the U.S. government did not have “much to do with” it.

Protesters took to the streets in late April of that year to force Maduro from power, led by National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó, whom the U.S. still recognizes as the interim president, even though the putsch was unsuccessful.

“The notion that Donald Trump was half as competent as the Venezuelan opposition is laughable,” Bolton said. 

The former United Nations ambassador also said if anyone thinks Trump has higher aims than delaying the election certification, “you’re going to overreact, and I think that’s a real risk for the committee, which has done a lot of good work.” 

Bolton has served in multiple positions over the years in the administrations of former Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Trump.

The committee’s public hearing on Tuesday focused on Trump’s efforts to rally his supporters to come to Washington, D.C., ahead of Jan. 6, the date Congress was set to certify the results of the election.

The committee revealed during its hearing that texts and an unpublished draft of a tweet show that Trump’s call for his supporters to march to the Capitol was not spontaneous.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the committee’s vice chairwoman, also revealed that Trump tried to call a witness expected to appear at a future hearing, raising further questions about potential witness tampering.

Tags coup coup d'etat Donald Trump Donald Trump House Jan. 6 committee Jake Tapper Jan. 6 Capitol riot John Bolton Juan Guaidó Liz Cheney Nicolas Maduro
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