- John Bolton criticized his former boss on Newsmax Monday night.
- Bolton pushed back against the host’s rosy portrayal of the Trump administration’s stance on Russia.
- “The fact is that he barely knew where Ukraine was,” Bolton said.
During an appearance Monday night on Newsmax’s “Rob Schmitt Tonight,” John Bolton, the US’s former national security advisor, criticized former President Donald Trump, his old boss, over his administration’s legacy in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
When the host depicted the Trump administration’s approach as “pretty tough on Russia, in a lot of ways,” Bolton disagreed.
The former Trump national security advisor said the 45th president “did not” handle Russia better than President Joe Biden, as Schmitt said, and listed a series of qualms he had about how Trump dealt with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We didn’t sanction Nord Stream 2,” Bolton said, referring to the Russian offshore natural-gas pipeline running to Germany under the Baltic Sea, which was officially canceled last week by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
“We should have,” Bolton added. “We should have brought the project to an end.”
After mentioning sanctions the Trump administration enacted on some Russian oligarchs, Bolton became more frank.
“But in almost every case, the sanctions were imposed with Trump complaining about it and saying we were being too hard,” Bolton said. “The fact is that he barely knew where Ukraine was. He once asked John Kelly, his second chief of staff, if Finland were a part of Russia. It’s just not accurate to say that Trump’s behavior somehow deterred the Russians.”
The former president and his GOP allies in recent days repeatedly suggested Putin would not have launched the attack on Ukraine if Trump were still in office.
But Putin was fueling a war in eastern Ukraine throughout Trump’s presidency. Trump was also impeached, in part, for withholding $400 million in military aid from Ukraine while this conflict was ongoing as he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation into the then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter over baseless allegations of corruption.
The aid was eventually released to Ukraine but after Trump was made aware of a whistleblower complaint linked to the hold and his effort to pressure Zelensky.
During his presidency, Trump routinely praised Putin and behaved in ways that experts said emboldened the Russian leader and jeopardized national security. In perhaps the most infamous example, Trump in July 2018 appeared to side with Putin over the US intelligence community about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. More recently, Trump lauded Putin’s justification for invading Ukraine as “genius” and “savvy.”
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