An Amazing Sentence

An amazing statement from Bolton's book.

“Ambassador John Bolton Speaks to Press” by The White House is in the Public Domain, CC0

The WSJ has an excerpt of Bolton’s book which includes the following passage:

These and innumerable other similar conversations with Trump formed a pattern of fundamentally unacceptable behavior that eroded the very legitimacy of the presidency. Had Democratic impeachment advocates not been so obsessed with their Ukraine blitzkrieg in 2019, had they taken the time to inquire more systematically about Trump’s behavior across his entire foreign policy, the impeachment outcome might well have been different.

I am almost speechless. The bolded sentence was written by a man who refused to testify before the House.

In other words, he could have provided eye witness testimony of the President of the United States directly courting foreign interference in our elections and he refused to testify. But better than that, he didn’t keep this information to himself out of some odd honor code or specific interpretation of executive privilege. Oh no, he simply was saving it for his book.

And then, to put the cherry on the sundae of it all, he chides Congress for not broadening the scope of their investigation in the same paragraph he notes Trump’s ” unacceptable behavior that eroded the very legitimacy of the presidency.”

It is beyond galling and is truly outrageous.

FILED UNDER: The Presidency, US Politics, , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Jay L Gischer says:

    Yep, that sentence hit me in about the same way.

    It reminds me of that old tale of the guy who murders his parents and then begs the mercy of the court because he’s an orphan.

    But it must be acknowledged that he follows a script that has served many a conservative well: Say anything you like, do anything you like, you will be accepted if you bash Democrats while you do it. It might work for him this time.

  2. Monala says:

    A frequent commenter at the blog Lawyers, Guns and Money came up with the eponymous “Murc’s Law,” which says, “Only Democrats have agency.”

    Murc’s Law is apparently believed by many Republicans, members of the media, and many on the left. Thus, if Republicans do something bad, it’s Democrats’ fault for not stopping them. If Democrats compromise with Republicans to get something passed, they’re sellouts, and any negatives from the law passed are solely Democrats’ fault. But if Democrats refuse to compromise because what Republicans want is abhorrent, then any negatives from the lack of a law being passed are solely Democrats’ fault. Besides which, it’s Democrats’ fault for not stopping the Republicans from wanting abhorrent things in the first place. Etc, etc.

    It seems Mr. Bolton is a firm believer in Murc’s Law.

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    Congratulations to Mr. Bolton who has now destroyed his standing with 100% of Washington DC. Well done!

  4. CSK says:

    George Conway, in the WaPo, posited that Bolton wanted to be compelled to testify by court order, because if he volunteered he’d be portrayed as a disgruntled former employee. This seems a bit of a stretch to me.

  5. Kathy says:

    Have you thought of political parties as simple brands, trademarks?

    One way to tarnish a brand is to offer a shoddy product under its banner. Remember Pierre Cardin? His brand was the usual high-class French prestige brand. In Mexico the people who licensed it began churning out clothes priced for sale at places like Walmart or Woolworth’s . Nothing high-class French prestige about that. The trademark sank like a sack full of stones.

    Trump’s done this kind of damage to the Republican brand. But it would be worse if the product Trump, Donald (XXL) were recalled as unsafe for its stated purpose. That kills the brand. It might also have helped the democrats, given the furor and kicking and screaming Trump would have kicked up as he was forcibly removed from office, if it got to that; no matter how much some in the GOP would rather see a president Pence finish off the term.

    That’s in secondary consideration to the main goal which was to sell his book.

  6. Hal_10000 says:

    He’s not wrong; he’s just the worst person who could make this point.

    Everyone knew how the impeachment was going to turn out. The GOP was never going to vote to remove him. But the progressive wing was never going to accept not impeaching. So Pelosi rushed through a very narrow inquiry to get it over with long before the election.

    Had the Democrats been serious, they would have done a full inquiry into EVERYTHING he’s done. All the corruption, all the violations, all the influence pulling everything. Maybe the outcome would have been the same, but it would have had a much larger chance of persuading the general public and moving a few more Republicans over. But that would have dragged out past the election.

    But, as I said, Bolton is the worst possible person to make this point given his silence at the time.

  7. Joe says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    John Bolton has no guaranteed that no one will pay for his drinks anywhere at any time.
    @Hal_10000: I disagree with Bolton and I disagree with you. This suggestion of a more comprehensive impeachment investigation would have had to go on till 2025 and lost all interest from the public after the first two months. It would make the Benghazi investigations look like a traffic stop. I feel the same way about know-it-all Bolton’s chiding Democrats for not fighting the subpoenas all the way through. I am not saying the impeachment prosecutors got it all right, but I think they did a reasonable job of balancing their goals.

    And, surprise, the Senate Republicans were never going to convict. So everyone is on the record where they need to be.

  8. @Kathy: Party labels are very much brands.

    The problem remains, however, that the duopoly means there are no new products to replace it with and hence people being stuck with it.

    If there was a viable new brand that could be marketed to take advantage, we would be in better shape.

  9. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @CSK: Doesn’t seem like a stretch to me at all. Bolton is as egotistical as Trump. He wanted Republicans to ask him to testify, or a court to say that he, John Bolton, was required to testify. How noble of him.

    John Bolton is a waste of genetic material, and has been for decades. Even when pointing out that Trump is also a waste of oxygen. Trust his book at your peril–it SOUNDS plausible and it would be nice to have my opinions validated by yet another source, but his track record for honest evaluation is as poor as it can be.

  10. Jen says:

    He’s trying so hard to make a point that Democrats are bad at their jobs that he doesn’t notice what a heel this makes HIM look like. What a jerk.

    Had the Democrats been serious, they would have done a full inquiry into EVERYTHING he’s done.

    I made a similar argument during impeachment, but suggested that they pick the top three and run concurrent inquiries. That way, if one came up with substantial charges quickly they could pursue it without it dragging out and looking like they were delaying until the election. At the time, I remember thinking the narrow focus was both a good idea and likely one that wouldn’t go anywhere.

    Public opinion could have started to become far more sympathetic if it looked like the Dems were just piling on. Having multiple, concurrent, but tight inquiries would have made the point, possibly.

  11. JohnMcC says:

    @Hal_10000: Well, there is that problem that numerous administration figure refused to testify and that they were not discouraged in that decision by their fear of the House of Representatives Sergeant at Arms. But on earth2 — you’re correct.

  12. An Interested Party says:

    Maybe the outcome would have been the same, but it would have had a much larger chance of persuading the general public and moving a few more Republicans over.

    Oh please…literally nothing that the Democrats could have produced would have caused Republicans to vote against Trump, nor caused more of Trump’s base in the general public to turn against him, but you go on living in Fantasy Land…

  13. Barry says:

    @Hal_10000: “Had the Democrats been serious, they would have done a full inquiry into EVERYTHING he’s done. ”

    Please note that Trump’s people simply refused to comply with subpoenas, and the Federalist judges have aided and abetted that behavior.

    Pelosi made a decision to go with a simple crime, with good evidence, rather than trying to deal with the complexities of the Mueller report.

    As we’ve seen demonstrated again and again and again, it’s hard to investigate the police when they and the judges and the prosecutors are all accomplices.

  14. Sleeping Dog says:

    After all, it is John Bolton that we are discussing here, could you realistically expected more?

  15. Scott says:

    @Hal_10000: @JohnMcC: @Barry:

    This is probably the biggest norm breaker of all: that the Executive Branch, and apparently anyone else, can just blow off subpeonas from the Legislative Branch. With no consequence.

    I think there should be a consequence but can’t think of one except just zeroing out the funding of anyone or any agency that refuses to testify.

  16. Mark K Logan says:

    “Profiles in Weasel”.

    Chapter One: “John Bolton”.

  17. Kit says:

    Come on, people, try to put yourself in his shoes. He’s had to juggle three different desires: 1) pursue his foreign-policy ambitions as National Security Advisor, 2) alert the country to a dangerously incompetent and corrupt President, and 3) get revenge on his enemies by signing a lucrative book deal. What would you expect him to do: call a press conference, resign live on tv, and warn the country of the horrors he saw? Once the gravy train ended and he was busy pecking away at his keyboard as a private citizen, why on earth would anyone expect him to testify, at least before the book was published?

  18. Kingdaddy says:

    @Kit: Actually, I think doing the right thing — resigning, calling attention to the crimes and misdeeds, making yourself available to people who want you to testify — is, in the long run, a better money-making opportunity than Bolton’s decision. Millions of people are happy to not buy his book, relying instead on excerpts and news reports. They won’t pay to hear him speak, buy one of his future books, or support him in any way at all.

    In the most mercenary terms possible, his new brand would be “The Guy Whom Everyone Thought Was A Dangerous Loon, But Turns Out To Be A Principles Person.” He’d half to give up on getting support from some old sources, but he’d get new support from others. He might have been the John Dean of the Trump era. Instead, he’s an arrogant fool whom no one trusts or respects.

  19. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Not quite. Every candidate is a different product of sorts. There are no other brands.

    However, even with a duopoly, damage can be lasting. Loss of power, loss of influence, loss of jobs, loss of income opportunities, etc.

    Then, too, countries are even harder to replace than parties, and the Trump disaster has really tarnished the US brand worldwide.

  20. dazedandconfused says:

    If Bolton really thinks Republicans would have joined calls for impeachment over “…Trump’s behavior across his entire foreign policy…” he’s sadly out of touch with reality. In a lot of ways he always has been. Bolton’s never met a war he didn’t like.

  21. An Interested Party says:

    …he’s sadly out of touch with reality.

    Oh he’s quite in touch with reality…Susan Glasser has a piece in the New Yorker that expresses it best…

    A book tour, alas, just isn’t the same as a sworn hearing under the penalty of perjury.


  22. JohnMcC says:

    @dazedandconfused: Well, there is that war over in … let me think … VietNam. You remember that there was this war over there during the time that our John was eligible for military service. And he really had a good chance to see it! His birth date gave him a draft number of 185. Young men up to the number 195 were being allowed the privilege of serving their country.

    But our brave Sir Robin (oops) John by his own account: “Before graduation (from Yale) I joined the Maryland Nat’l Guard, finding a position by driving from armory to armory in the Baltimore area and signing up on waiting lists until a slot opened up. I had concluded that the …. war was lost and made the cold calculation that I wasn’t going to waste time….” There were quite a few births on the day John appeared on this vail of tears, of course. Of them, three — Mr Wayman Cook, Mr Jerry Miller and Mr Richard Lassiter did not decide it was a waste of their time. They died.

    There’s photo of John’s full remarks in the 25th Reunion Class Book at the site‘s-military-service

  23. de stijl says:

    It’s almost as grifting were a core Republican principle.

    Monetize backstabbing if there is a market.

  24. Teve says:

    @JohnMcC: I can’t hold it against anybody that they skipped Vietnam. Do you think the Vietnam War was worth your life?

  25. Kathy says:


    I won’t even criticize anyone who dodged conscription at any time for any war.

    But it’s different to oppose yourself going to war, while demanding other people do so, and while promoting war as a cure-all for all geopolitical problems. That makes Bolton and others like him chickenhawks.

  26. JohnMcC says:

    @Teve: Well, I happened to be a person in the military when the events of the Tonkin Gulf happened. After that, I volunteered to go to VietNam. I cross-trained into a field that would make that assignment certain. Got what I asked for.

    Thought at the time that if my country was at war, I should take part.

    Stupid. But I’d do it all again. Call it patriotic.