I Can't Believe I'm Defending John Bolton

I rise (reluctantly) to Bolton’s defense here, against the many comments accusing him of being self-serving and wanting to know why he hasn’t spoken up way earlier.

Bolton was the national security advisor, and as such remains under lifelong restrictions as to what he can say publicly. Without a subpoena, he could find himself in serious legal trouble for breaching national security. Even he prevailed in court, the legal fees would still be ruinous — something Trump knows very well and has a long history of using.

Bur a subpoena (which Bolton has invited), once issued, would still be dragged through the court process. Bolton had been watching the White House challenge and fight the subpoena against Charles Kupperman, one of his aides, until finally the House decided it was running out of time and dropped it.

Bolton is also an experienced Washington infighter who knows the value of innuendo and of leaks. And particularly the value of timing.

So now, ask yourselves, when would a revelation such as Bolton’s do the most damage?

I submit that he waited and watched as the impeachment process developed, and when he saw how the House managers’ case was built on getting testimony, particularly his, he struck.

Because of concerns he could be accused of violating national security, he had to take care not to leave his fingerprints. He wrote it into his draft and he gave his draft to the White House, to his editors, and to a few readers. The NYT story very carefully does not say where it got its information from, but it does say this:

Mr. Bolton’s explosive account of the matter at the center of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial, the third in American history, was included in drafts of a manuscript he has circulated in recent weeks to close associates. He also sent a draft to the White House for a standard review process for some current and former administration officials who write books.

Multiple people described Mr. Bolton’s account of the Ukraine affair.

I believe that Bolton dropped a few hints to signal these “multiple people” that it was time to spring the leak, once the House managers had finished their presentation but before the defense had finished theirs.

That’s how. As to why: I’ve said this in October and in early January on this forum that while I have no use for Bolton’s policies and war-mongering, I do believe he sincerely thinks that Trump is a disaster who needs to be removed. Let me close by repeating a clip from the January diary, which discusses Bolton’s offer to testify under subpoena after Trump killed Soleimani:

Bolton is not going to testify in any way that will help Trump. He runs too great a risk of perjury if he does, given all the previous testimony about how he felt over the Ukraine shambles. His offer to testify now, in a setting where the whole country has to watch, can only mean he’s decided that Trump needs to go.

The defense rests.