John Bolton Casually Admits He’s Planned Coups Before
DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 17: Former National Security Advisor John Bolton discusses the "current threats to national security" during a forum moderated by Peter Feaver, the director of Duke's American Grand Strategy, at the Page Auditorium on the campus of Duke University on February 17, 2020 in Durham, North Carolina. A sold out crowd joined to listen to reflections from John Bolton's life's work. Questions from the audience were offered to Bolton by the moderator. A scheduled protest was held outside while attendees lined up for entrance. (Photo by Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images)
Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton admitted during a Tuesday CNN interview that he had helped to plan coups d’etat in the past.

Bolton joined “The Lead” anchor Jake Tapper to discuss the ongoing January 6 Committee hearings, and the two appeared to be at odds over whether the riot that unfolded that day on Capitol Hill had been the result of a carefully planned coup attempt or simply happenstance.

Bolton argued that former President Donald Trump’s actions — particularly after he lost the 2020 presidential election — had certainly been “indefensible,” but that he didn’t believe the riot had been the culmination of careful planning.

“I think it’s also important to understand, while nothing Donald Trump did after the election in connection with the lie about the election fraud, none of it is defensible. None of it is defensible,” Bolton began. “It’s also a mistake, as some people have said, including on the committee, that somehow this was a carefully planned coup d’etat aimed at the Constitution. That’s not the way Donald Trump does things.”

Bolton went on to describe Trump’s approach as more “rambling” from one idea to the next, making new plans in real time as the old ones fell apart.

“He’s — to use a ‘Star Wars’ metaphor — a disturbance in the force,” Bolton continued, arguing that Trump had simply been looking out for his own interests and the riot had just happened. “It’s not an attack on our democracy. It’s Donald Trump looking out for Donald Trump. It’s a once in a lifetime occurrence.”

“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,” Tapper argued.

“I disagree with that. As somebody who has helped plan coups d’etat, not here, but other places, it takes a lot of work,” Bolton replied. “And that’s not what he did. It was just stumbling around from one idea to another.”

Bolton said that while he agreed that Trump had encouraged the rioters to move toward the Capitol, it had not been a well-thought-out plot to overthrow the Constitution.

“And if you don’t believe that, you’re going to overreact,” Bolton concluded. “And I think that’s a real risk for the committee, which has done a lot of good work … It is invariably the case that when you go too far, trying to prove your case, you undermine it. And I think you got to give credit to the intelligence of the American people to listen to the witnesses and let them come to the conclusion.”

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