John R. Bolton

Last updated

John R. Bolton
John R. Bolton official photo.jpg
Bolton in 2018
27th United States National Security Advisor
Assumed office
April 9, 2018
President Donald Trump
Deputy Nadia Schadlow
Ricky L. Waddell
Mira Ricardel
Charles Kupperman
Preceded by H.R. McMaster
25th United States Ambassador to the United Nations
In office
August 2, 2005 December 31, 2006
President George W. Bush
Preceded by John Danforth
Succeeded by Zalmay Khalilzad
3rd Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs
In office
May 11, 2001 July 31, 2005
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded by John D. Holum
Succeeded by Robert Joseph
18th Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs
In office
May 22, 1989 January 20, 1993
President George H. W. Bush
Preceded by Richard S. Williamson
Succeeded by Douglas J. Bennet
United States Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division
In office
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded byRichard K. Willard
Succeeded by Stuart M. Gerson
United States Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs
In office
PresidentRonald Reagan
Preceded byRobert A. McConnell [1]
Succeeded byThomas M. Boyd [2]
Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development for Program and Policy Coordination
In office
PresidentRonald Reagan
Preceded byAlexander Shakow [3]
Succeeded byRichard A. Derham [4]
Personal details
John Robert Bolton

(1948-11-20) November 20, 1948 (age 70)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Political party Republican
Christine Bolton(m. 19721983)

Gretchen Smith
Education Yale University (BA, JD)
Military service
AllegianceFlag of the United States.svg  United States
Branch/service Flag of the United States Army (official proportions).svg United States Army
Years of service1970–1976 [5]

John Robert Bolton (born November 20, 1948) is an American attorney, political commentator, Republican consultant, government official and former diplomat serving as the 27th National Security Advisor of the United States since April 9, 2018. [6]

Republican Party (United States) Major political party in the United States

The Republican Party, also referred to as the GOP, is one of the two major political parties in the United States; the other is its historic rival, the Democratic Party.

National Security Advisor (United States) White House advisory position

The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA), commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor (NSA) or at times informally termed the NSC Advisor, is a senior aide in the Executive Office of the President, based at the West Wing of the White House, who serves as the chief in-house advisor to the President of the United States on national security issues. The National Security Advisor is appointed by the President and does not require confirmation by the Senate, but an appointment of a three or four-star general to the role requires Senate reconfirmation of military rank.


Bolton served as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations from August 2005 to December 2006 as a recess appointee by President George W. Bush. [7] He resigned at the end of his recess appointment in December 2006 [8] [9] because he was unlikely to win confirmation from the Senate, which the Democratic Party had gained control of at the time. [10] [11]

United States Ambassador to the United Nations

The United States ambassador to the United Nations is the leader of the U.S. delegation, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. The position is more formally known as the "Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, and Representative of the United States of America in the Security Council of the United Nations"; it is also known as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations. There is also a deputy ambassador who assumes the duties of the ambassador in his or her absence. Like all United States ambassadors, the ambassador to the UN and the deputy ambassador are nominated by the U.S. president and confirmed by the Senate. The ambassador serves at the pleasure of the president.

In the United States, a recess appointment is an appointment by the President of a federal official when the U.S. Senate is in recess. Under the U.S. Constitution's Appointments Clause, the president is empowered to nominate, and with the advice and consent (confirmation) of the United States Senate, make appointments to high-level policy-making positions in federal departments, agencies, boards, and commissions. A recess appointment under Article II, Section 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution is an alternative method of appointing officials that allows the filling of vacancies to maintain the continuity of administrative government through the temporary filling of offices during periods when the Senate is not in session.

George W. Bush 43rd president of the United States

George Walker Bush is an American politician and businessman who served as the 43rd president of the United States from 2001 to 2009. He had previously served as the 46th governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000.

Bolton is a former senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), [12] and Fox News Channel commentator. He was a foreign policy adviser to 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney. [13] Bolton has been involved with numerous conservative organizations, including the anti-Muslim Gatestone Institute, [14] where he served as the organization Chairman until March 2018. [15]

American Enterprise Institute American think tank

The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, known simply as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), is a Washington, D.C.-based conservative think tank that researches government, politics, economics, and social welfare. AEI is an independent nonprofit organization supported primarily by grants and contributions from foundations, corporations, and individuals.

Mitt Romney United States Senator from Utah

Willard Mitt Romney is an American politician and businessman serving as the junior United States senator from Utah since January 2019. He previously served as the 70th Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007 and was the Republican Party's nominee for President of the United States in the 2012 election.

Conservatism in the United States Conservatism in the United States

Conservatism in the United States is a broad system of political beliefs in the United States that is characterized by respect for American traditions, republicanism, support for Judeo-Christian values, moral universalism, pro-business and anti-labor, anti-communism, individualism, advocacy of American exceptionalism, and a defense of Western culture from the perceived threats posed by socialism, authoritarianism, and moral relativism. Liberty is a core value, as is with all major American parties. American conservatives consider individual liberty—within the bounds of American values—as the fundamental trait of democracy; this perspective contrasts with that of modern American liberals, who generally place a greater value on equality and social justice and emphasize the need for state intervention to achieve these goals. American conservatives believe in limiting government in size and scope, and in a balance between national government and states' rights. Apart from some libertarians, they tend to favor strong action in areas they believe to be within government's legitimate jurisdiction, particularly national defense and law enforcement. Social conservatives oppose abortion and favor restricting LGBT rights, while privileging traditional marriage and supporting Christian prayer in public schools.

Bolton is a foreign policy hawk and is an advocate for regime change in Iran, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, Cuba, Yemen and North Korea. [16] [17] He has also repeatedly called for the termination of the Iran nuclear deal. He was an advocate of the Iraq War and continues to support the decision to invade Iraq. [18] He has continuously supported military action and regime change in Syria, Libya, and Iran. [19] [18] A Republican, his political views have been described as American nationalist, [20] [21] conservative, [22] [23] [24] [25] and "neoconservative". [26] Bolton rejects the last term [27] and uses the term "pro-American" instead. [28] [29] [30]

A war hawk, or simply hawk, is a term used in politics for someone favoring war in a debate over whether to go to war, or whether to continue or escalate an existing war. War hawks are the opposite of doves. The terms are derived by analogy with the birds of the same name: hawks are predators that attack and eat other animals, whereas doves mostly eat seeds and fruit and are historically a symbol of peace.

Regime change is the replacement of one government regime with another. Use of the term dates to at least 1925. Regime change may replace all or part of the state's most critical leadership system, administrative apparatus, or bureaucracy.

Iran Islamic Republic in Western Asia

Iran, also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Its territory spans 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), making it the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. Its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the capital, largest city, and leading economic and cultural center.

Early life, education and early career

Bolton was born on November 20, 1948, in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Virginia Clara "Ginny" (née Godfrey), a housewife, and Edward Jackson "Jack" Bolton, a fireman. [31] [32] [33] He grew up in the working-class neighborhood of Yale Heights and won a scholarship to the McDonogh School in Owings Mills, Maryland, graduating in 1966. [31] He also ran the school's Students For Goldwater campaign in 1964.

Baltimore Largest city in Maryland

Baltimore is the largest city in the state of Maryland within the United States. Baltimore was established by the Constitution of Maryland as an independent city in 1729. With a population of 602,495 in 2018, Baltimore is the largest such independent city in the United States. As of 2017, the population of the Baltimore metropolitan area was estimated to be just under 2.802 million, making it the 21st largest metropolitan area in the country. Baltimore is located about 40 miles (60 km) northeast of Washington, D.C., making it a principal city in the Washington-Baltimore combined statistical area (CSA), the fourth-largest CSA in the nation, with a calculated 2018 population of 9,797,063.

Maryland State of the United States of America

Maryland is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east. The state's largest city is Baltimore, and its capital is Annapolis. Among its occasional nicknames are Old Line State, the Free State, and the Chesapeake Bay State. It is named after the English queen Henrietta Maria, known in England as Queen Mary.

Yale Heights (Baltimore) neighborhood statistical area in Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Yale Heights is a neighborhood in the Southwest District of Baltimore, located between Beechfield (west) and Irvington (east). Most of its homes were built in 1955 as a development of two-bedroom, brick townhouses. Its population in 2008 was estimated at 2,916.

Bolton attended Yale University, earning a B.A. and graduating summa cum laude in 1970. He was a member of the Yale Political Union. He attended Yale Law School from 1971 to 1974, where he shared classes with his friend Clarence Thomas, earning a J.D. in 1974. [34]

Yale University private research university in New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution.

A Bachelor of Arts is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, institution, and specific specializations, majors, or minors. The word baccalaureus should not be confused with baccalaureatus, which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in some countries.

Yale Political Union organization

The Yale Political Union (YPU) is a debate society at Yale University, founded in 1934 by Professor Alfred Whitney Griswold. It was modeled on the Cambridge Union and Oxford Union and the party system of the defunct Yale Unions of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which were in turn inspired by the great literary debating societies of Linonia and Brothers in Unity. Members of the YPU have reciprocal rights at sister societies in England. The Union is the central forum for political discussion and activism at Yale, and is Yale's largest student organization.

In 1972, Bolton was a summer intern for Vice President Spiro Agnew. [35] [36] He was hired for the position by David Keene. [35]

Vietnam War

Bolton was a supporter of the Vietnam War, but purposely avoided military service in Vietnam. [37] [31] During the 1969 Vietnam War draft lottery, Bolton drew number 185. (Draft numbers were assigned by birth date.) [38] As a result of the Johnson and Nixon administrations' decisions to rely largely on the draft rather than on the reserve forces, joining a Guard or Reserve unit became a way to avoid service in the Vietnam War, although 42 Army Reserve units were called up with 35 of them deployed to Vietnam shortly after the Tet offensive in 1968–69. [39] [40] Before graduating from Yale in 1970, Bolton enlisted in the Maryland Army National Guard rather than wait to find out if his draft number would be called. [41] [42] (The highest number called to military service was 195.) [43] He saw active duty for 18 weeks of training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, from July to November 1970. [42] After serving in the National Guard for four years, he served in the United States Army Reserve until the end of his enlistment two years later. [5]

He wrote in his Yale 25th reunion book: "I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost." [37] In a 2007 interview, Bolton explained his comment in the reunion book saying his decision to avoid service in Vietnam was because "by the time I was about to graduate in 1970, it was clear to me that opponents of the Vietnam War had made it certain we could not prevail, and that I had no great interest in going there to have Teddy Kennedy give it back to the people I might die to take it away from." [44] [45] [46]


From 1974 to 1981, Bolton was an associate at the Washington office of Covington & Burling; he returned to the firm again from 1983 to 1985. Bolton was also a partner in the law firm of Lerner, Reed, Bolton & McManus, from 1993 to 1999. [47] [48] [49] He was of counsel in the Washington office of Kirkland & Ellis from 2008 until his appointment as National Security Advisor in 2018. [50] [51] [52] In September 2015, Freedom Capital Investment Management appointed Bolton as a senior advisor. [53]

Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations

During the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, his governmental roles were within the State Department, the Justice Department, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. He was a protégé of conservative North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms. [54]

His Justice Department position as an assistant attorney general required him to advance Reagan administration positions, including [55] opposition to financial reparations to Japanese-Americans held in World War II-era internment camps; [56] the insistence on Reagan's executive privilege during William Rehnquist's chief justice confirmation hearings, when Congress asked for memos written by Rehnquist as a Nixon Justice Department official; [57] shepherding the judicial nomination process for Antonin Scalia; [55] and the framing of a bill to control illegal immigration as an essential drug war measure. [55] He was also involved in the Iran–Contra affair. [58] [59] [60]

Bolton's government service included such positions as:

Under Secretary of State (2001 – 2005)

Bolton joins Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld in negotiations with Rumsfeld's Russian counterpart News Photo 011103-D-9880W-036.jpg
Bolton joins Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld in negotiations with Rumsfeld's Russian counterpart

Bolton worked as the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, sworn into this position on May 11, 2001. In this role, a key area of his responsibility was the prevention of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Bolton negotiated so-called "Article 98" agreements with countries to prohibit them from turning Americans over to the International Criminal Court, which is not recognized by the U.S. [63] [64] Bolton said the decision to pull out of the ICC was the "happiest moment" of his political career to date. [65] [63]

Weapons of mass destruction

Bolton was instrumental in derailing a 2001 biological weapons conference in Geneva convened to endorse a UN proposal to enforce the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention. He argued that the plan would have jeopardized U.S. national security by allowing spot inspections of suspected U.S. weapons sites. [66]

In May 2002, Bolton gave a speech entitled "Beyond the Axis of Evil" in response to President Bush's State of the Union Address (where Bush characterized Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as part of an "Axis of Evil"). Bolton added three more nations to be grouped with the aforementioned rogue states: Cuba, Libya, and Syria. Bolton said they were all "state sponsors of terrorism that are pursuing or who have the potential to pursue weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or have the capability to do so in violation of their treaty obligations." [67] During his time as Under Secretary of State, Bolton "sought to block, and often succeeded in sabotaging" the negotiations that Secretary of State Colin Powell conducted with North Korea [68]

Also in 2002, Bolton is said to have flown to Europe to demand the resignation of Brazilian José Bustani, head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and to have orchestrated his removal at a special session of the organization. [69] Bustani was deemed to be an obstacle in creating the case for the invasion of Iraq. [70] The United Nations' highest administrative tribunal later condemned the action as an "unacceptable violation" of principles protecting international civil servants. Bustani had been unanimously re-elected for a four-year term—with strong U.S. support—in May 2000, and in 2001 was praised for his leadership by Colin Powell. [71] According to Bustani, John Bolton demanded that he step down in 24 hours, adding, "We know where your children are". [72]

He also pushed for reduced funding for the Nunn–Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program to halt the proliferation of nuclear materials. [73] At the same time, he was involved in the implementation of the Proliferation Security Initiative, working with a number of countries to intercept the trafficking in weapons of mass destruction and in materials for use in building nuclear weapons. [74]


According to an article in The New Republic , Bolton was highly successful in pushing his agenda, but his bluntness made him many enemies. "Iran's Foreign Ministry has called Bolton 'rude' and 'undiplomatic'." [75] In response to critics, Bolton states that his record "demonstrates clear support for effective multilateral diplomacy." Bush administration officials have stated that his past statements would allow him to negotiate from a powerful position. "It's like the Palestinians having to negotiate with [Israeli Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon. If you have a deal, you know you have a deal," an anonymous official told CNN. [76] He also "won widespread praise for his work establishing the Proliferation Security Initiative, a voluntary agreement supported by 60 countries". [77]

Unsubstantiated claims about a Cuban WMD program

In 2002, Bolton held a speech at the Heritage Foundation where he accused Cuba of having a secret biological weapons program, and of collaborating with Libya and Iran. [49] [78] [79] Bolton asserted, "The United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort. Cuba has provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states." [80] [79] Bolton made the remarks a week before former president Jimmy Carter was scheduled to meet Fidel Castro in Cuba, becoming the first US President since the Cuban Revolution to visit Cuba in an effort to build bridges between the two countries. [79]

The State Department's chief bioweapons analyst refused to approve the accusation made in the speech, telling Bolton that the State Department did not have evidence to substantiate Bolton's accusation. [49] [78] [81] [79] Subsequently, Bolton berated the analyst, unsuccessfully sought to fire him, began to exclude the analyst's supervisor from meetings, and tried to transfer the analyst to a different office. [49] [78] [79] Bolton was also alleged to have sought to punish other intelligence officers who refused to endorse his claims about Cuba. [82] [73] [79] Paul Pillar described Bolton's attempts to get the intelligence community to endorse his views as among the most egregious recent instances of "arm-twisting" the intelligence community, [81] while Columbia University international relations scholar Richard K. Betts described the reports about Bolton's pressure as "most blatant top-down pressure on intelligence" in the Bush administration. [83] Bolton claims that the issue was procedural rather than related to the content of his speech and that the officers, who did not work under him, behaved unprofessionally. [78]

In April 2004, Bolton again accused Cuba of being a "terrorist and (biological weapons) threat to the United States." [84] Experts at the time disputed the veracity of Bolton's claims, saying that the evidence in support of the claim was weak. [85] In September 2004 and in the wake of the failure to locate WMDs in Iraq, the Bush administration backed off claims that Cuba had an active biological weapons program. [86]


Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman alleged that Bolton played a role in encouraging the inclusion of statement that British Intelligence had determined Iraq attempted to procure yellowcake uranium from Niger in Bush's 2003 State of the Union Address. [87] These statements were claimed by critics of the President to be partly based on documents found to be forged. [88] Waxman's allegations could not be confirmed as they were based on classified documents. [87]

Bolton stated in June 2004 congressional testimony that Iran was lying about enriched uranium contamination: "Another unmistakable indicator of Iran's intentions is the pattern of repeatedly lying to ... the IAEA ... when evidence of uranium enriched to 36 percent was found, it attributed this to contamination from imported centrifuge parts." However, later isotope analysis supported Iran's explanation of foreign contamination for most of the observed enriched uranium. [89] At their August 2005 meeting the IAEA's Board of Governors concluded: "Based on the information currently available to the Agency, the results of that analysis tend, on balance, to support Iran's statement about the foreign origin of most of the observed highly enriched uranium contamination." [90]

Bolton has often been accused of attempting to pressure the intelligence community to endorse his views. [91] [81] [92] According to former coworkers, Bolton withheld information that ran counter to his goals from Secretary of State Colin Powell on multiple occasions, and from Powell's successor Condoleezza Rice on at least one occasion. [92] [93]

Ambassador to the United Nations (2005 – 2006)

President George W. Bush announces the nomination of Bolton as the U.S. ambassador to the UN as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice looks on. President George W. Bush announcing the nomination of John Bolton as UN Ambassador.jpg
President George W. Bush announces the nomination of Bolton as the U.S. ambassador to the UN as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice looks on.

On March 7, 2005, Bolton was nominated to the post of United States Ambassador to the United Nations by President George W. Bush. [76] [94] As a result of a Democratic filibuster, he was recess-appointed to the post on August 1, 2005. Bolton's nomination received strong support from Republicans but faced heavy opposition from Democrats due initially to concerns about his strongly expressed views on the United Nations.

Holding a 10–8 majority in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (tasked with vetting ambassadorial nominees), the Republican leadership hoped to send Bolton's nomination to the full Senate with a positive recommendation. Concern among some Republicans on the committee, however, prompted the leadership to avoid losing such a motion and instead to send the nomination forward with no recommendation. In the full Senate, Republican support for the nomination remained uncertain, with the most vocal Republican critic, Ohio Senator George V. Voinovich, circulating a letter urging his Republican colleagues to oppose the nomination. [95] Democrats insisted that a vote on the nomination was premature, given the resistance of the White House to share classified documents related to Bolton's alleged actions. The Republican leadership moved on two occasions to end debate, but because a supermajority of 60 votes is needed to end debate, the leadership was unable to muster the required votes with only a 55–44 majority in the body. An earlier agreement between moderates in both parties to prevent filibustering of nominees was interpreted by the Democrats to relate only to judicial nominees, [96] not ambassadorships, although the leader of the effort, Sen. John McCain, said the spirit of the agreement was to include all nominees.

On November 9, 2006, Bush, only days after losing both houses to a Democratic majority, sent the nomination [97] for Bolton to continue as representative for the United States at the UN. [98] He said: "I believe that the leaders of both political parties must try to work through our differences. And I believe we will be able to work through differences. I reassured the House and Senate leaders that I intend to work with the new Congress in a bipartisan way to address issues confronting this country." [99]

Views on the United Nations

Ambassador Bolton briefing on "The Human Rights Commission and UN Management Reform" at the New York Foreign Press Center BoltonBig.jpg
Ambassador Bolton briefing on "The Human Rights Commission and UN Management Reform" at the New York Foreign Press Center

Bolton has been a strong critic of the United Nations for much of his career. [100] Bolton's opposition to the UN was rooted in a disdain for international organizations, who he believed infringed on the sovereignty of the United States. [101] [102] He also opposed the International Criminal Court. [101] [102] In 1994, he stated, "There is no United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that's the United States, when it suits our interests and when we can get others to go along." [103]

He also stated that "The Secretariat Building in New York has 38 stories. If you lost ten stories today, it wouldn't make a bit of difference." [104] When pressed on the statement during the confirmation process, he responded, "There's not a bureaucracy in the world that couldn't be made leaner." [105] In a paper on U.S. participation in the UN, Bolton stated "the United Nations can be a useful instrument in the conduct of American foreign policy." [106]

2005 nomination, Senate confirmation hearings

On April 11, 2005, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reviewed Bolton's qualifications. Bolton said that he and his colleagues "view the U.N. as an important component of our diplomacy" and will work to solve its problems and enhance its strengths, [107] echoing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice words from a month earlier. [108]

On the first day of the hearings, Republican committee chairman Richard Lugar criticized Bolton for ignoring the "policy consequences" of his statements, saying diplomatic speech "should never be undertaken simply to score international debating points to appeal to segments of the U.S. public opinion or to validate a personal point of view." [109] The committee's top Democrat, Joe Biden, compared sending Bolton to the UN to sending a "bull into a china shop," and expressed "grave concern" about Bolton's "diplomatic temperament" and his record: "In my judgment, your judgment about how to deal with the emerging threats have not been particularly useful," Biden said. [110] Republican Senator George Allen said that Bolton had the "experience," "knowledge," "background," "and the right principles to come into the United Nations at this time," calling him "the absolute perfect person for the job." [111] Democratic Senator Russ Feingold asked Bolton about what he would have done had the Rwandan genocide occurred while he was ambassador to the United Nations, and criticized his answer—which focused on logistics—as "amazingly passive." [112] According to Newsday , then-Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee "may be pivotal for Bolton's nomination." [113] His initial remarks were cautiously favorable: "You said all the right things in your opening statement." Chafee stated that he would probably support Bolton "unless something surprising shows up." [113]

On the second day, April 12, 2005, the Senate panel focused on allegations discussed above that Bolton pressured intelligence analysts. Calling Bolton a "serial abuser, " former State Department intelligence chief Carl W. Ford Jr. said, "I've never seen anybody quite like Secretary Bolton ... I don't have a second, third or fourth in terms of the way that he abuses his power and authority with little people." Ford contradicted Bolton's earlier testimony, saying: "I had been asked for the first time to fire an intelligence analyst for what he had said and done." Ford also characterized Bolton as a "kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy", implying that he was always ready to please whoever had authority over him, while having very little regard for people working under him. [114]

Lugar, who criticized Bolton at his April 11 hearing, said that the "paramount issue" was supporting Bush's nominee. He conceded that "bluntness ... may be required", even though it is not "very good diplomacy". [115] Chafee, the key member for Bolton's approval, said that "the bar is very high" for rejecting the president's nominees, suggesting that Bolton would make it to the Senate. [116]

On April 19, Democrats, with support from Voinovich, forced Lugar to delay the committee vote on Bolton's nomination until May. The debate concerning his nomination raged in the Senate prior to the Memorial Day recess. Two other Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee, Chafee and Chuck Hagel, also expressed serious concerns about the Bolton nomination. [117] Asked on April 20 if he was now less inclined to support the nomination, Chafee said, "That would be accurate." He further elaborated that Bolton's prospects were "hard to predict" but said he expected that "the administration is really going to put some pressure on Senator Voinovich. Then it comes to the rest of us that have had some reservations." [117]

On April 20, it emerged that Melody Townsel, a former USAID contractor, had reported to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Bolton had used inflammatory language and thrown objects in the course of her work activities in Moscow. Townsel's encounter with Bolton occurred when she served as a whistleblower against a poorly performing minority contractor for USAID, IBTCI. Townsel told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff that Bolton had made derogatory remarks about her sexual orientation and weight, among other workplace improprieties. In an official interview with Senate Foreign Relation Committee staff, Townsel detailed her accusations against Bolton, which were confirmed by Canadian designer Uno Ramat, who had served as an IBTCI employee and one of Townsel's AID colleagues. Time magazine, among other publications, verified Townsel's accusations and Ramat's supporting testimony, and Townsel's story was transcribed and entered into the official Senate committee record. Townsel, who was an employee of Young & Rubicam at the time of her encounter with Bolton, continued working for the company on a variety of other USAID projects. [118] [119] [120]

On April 22, The New York Times and other media reported that Bolton's former boss, Colin Powell, personally opposed the nomination and had been in personal contact with Chafee and Hagel. The same day, Reuters reported that a spokesman for Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said that the Senator felt the committee "did the right thing delaying the vote on Bolton in light of the recent information presented to the committee." [121]

Also on May 11, Newsweek reported allegations that the American position at the 7th Review Conference in May 2005 [122] of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty had been undercut by Bolton's "absence without leave" during the nomination fight, quoting anonymous sources "close to the negotiations". [123]

Democrats' filibuster

On May 26, 2005, Senate Democrats postponed the vote on Bolton's UN nomination. The Republican leadership failed to gain enough support to pass a cloture motion on the floor debate over Bolton, and minority leader Harry Reid conceded the move signaled the "first filibuster of the year." The Democrats claimed that key documents regarding Bolton and his career at the Department of State were being withheld by the Bush administration. Scott McClellan, White House press secretary, responded by saying, "Just 72 hours after all the good will and bipartisanship (over a deal on judicial nominees), it's disappointing to see the Democratic leadership resort back to such a partisan approach." [124]

The failure of the Senate to end debate on Bolton's nomination provided one surprise for some: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) voted against cloture for procedural reasons, so that he could bring up a cloture vote in the future.[ citation needed ] (Although Voinovich once spoke against confirming Bolton, he voted for cloture.) Senator John Thune (R-SD) voted to end debate but announced that he would vote against Bolton in the up-or-down vote as a protest against the government's plans to close a military base (Ellsworth) in his home state.

On June 20, 2005, the Senate voted again on cloture. The vote failed 54–38, six votes short of ending debate. That marked an increase of two "no" votes, including the defection of Voinovich, who switched his previous "yes" vote and urged President Bush to pick another nominee (Democrats Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson voted to end debate both times). On June 21, Frist expressed his view that attempting another vote would be pointless, but later that day, following a lunch at the White House, changed his position, saying that he would continue to push for an up-or-down vote.[ citation needed ] Voinovich later recanted his opposition and stated that if Bolton were renominated he would have supported the nomination. [125]

Accusations of false statement

On July 28, 2005, it was revealed that a statement made by Bolton on forms submitted to the Senate was false. Bolton indicated that in the prior five years he had not been questioned in any investigation, but in fact he had been interviewed by the State Department's Inspector General as part of an investigation into the sources of pre-war claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. After insisting for weeks that Bolton had testified truthfully on the form, the State Department reversed itself, stating that Bolton had simply forgotten about the investigation. [126]

Recess appointment

On August 1, 2005, Bush officially made a recess appointment of Bolton, installing him as Permanent US Representative to the UN. A recess appointment lasts until the next session of Congress ends or until the individual is renominated and confirmed by the Senate. During the announcement, Bush said, "This post is too important to leave vacant any longer, especially during a war and a vital debate about U.N. reform." [127] Democrats criticized the appointment, and Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Bolton would lack credibility in the U.N. because he lacked Senate confirmation. [128] U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed Mr. Bolton, but told reporters that the new ambassador should consult with others as the administration continued to press for changes at the United Nations. [129]

Term at the UN

The Economist called Bolton "the most controversial ambassador ever sent by America to the United Nations." Some colleagues in the UN appreciated the goals Bolton was trying to achieve, but not his abrasive style. [130] [131] The New York Times , in its editorial The Shame of the United Nations, praised Bolton's stance on "reforming the disgraceful United Nations Human Rights Commission", [132] saying "John Bolton, is right; Secretary-General Kofi Annan is wrong." The Times also said that the commission at that time was composed of "some of the world's most abusive regimes" who used their membership as cover to continue their abusiveness.

Bolton also opposed the proposed replacement for the Human Rights Commission, the UN Human Rights Council, as not going far enough for reform, saying: "We want a butterfly. We don't intend to put lipstick on a caterpillar and call it a success." [133]

2006 nomination

Bush announced his intention to renominate Bolton for confirmation as U.N. ambassador at the beginning of 2006, and a new confirmation hearing was held on July 27, 2006, in the hope of completing the process before the expiration of Bolton's recess appointment at the end of the 109th Congress. [134] Voinovich, who had previously stood in opposition to Bolton, had amended his views and determined that Bolton was doing a "good job" as UN ambassador; in February 2006, he said "I spend a lot of time with John on the phone. I think he is really working very constructively to move forward." [135]

Over the summer and during the fall election campaign, no action was taken on the nomination because Chafee, who was in a difficult re-election campaign, blocked a Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote.[ citation needed ] Without his concurrence, the SFRC would have been deadlocked 9–9, and the nomination could not have gone to the Senate floor for a full vote. Bush formally resubmitted the nomination on November 9, 2006, immediately following a midterm election that would give control of the 110th Congress to the Democratic party. [136] Chafee, who had just lost his re-election bid, issued a statement saying he would vote against recommending Bolton for a Senate vote, citing what he considered to be a mandate from the recent election results: "On Tuesday, the American people sent a clear message of dissatisfaction with the foreign policy approach of the Bush administration. To confirm Mr. Bolton to the position of U.N. ambassador would fly in the face of the clear consensus of the country that a new direction is called for." [137]

Termination of service

On December 4, 2006, Bolton announced that he would terminate his work as U.S. representative to the UN at the end of the recess appointment and would not continue to seek confirmation. [138] His letter of resignation from the Bush administration was accepted on December 4, 2006, effective when his recess appointment ended December 9 at the formal adjournment of the 109th Congress.

The announcement was characterized as Bolton's "resignation" by the Associated Press, [139] United Press International, [140] ABC News, [141] and other news sources, as well as a White House press release [9] and President Bush himself. [142] The White House, however, later objected to the use of this language. Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino told CBS News "it is not a resignation." [143] The actual language of the President's written acceptance was: "It is with deep regret that I accept John Bolton's decision to end his service in the administration as permanent representative of the United States to the United Nations when his commission expires." However, at press conference, the president said, "I received the resignation of Ambassador John Bolton. I accept it. I'm not happy about it. I think he deserved to be confirmed." [142] Some news organizations subsequently altered their language to phrases such as "to step down," "to leave," or "to exit." [144] [145] [146]

Support for Bolton

During his confirmation hearings in 2005, letters with signatures of more than 64 co-workers and professional colleagues were sent to Senator Richard Lugar, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in praise of Bolton and contradicting other criticisms and allegations concerning his diplomatic style and his treatment of colleagues and staff. [147]

In late 2006, when his nomination was again before the Committee, another letter signed by professional colleagues supporting the renomination was sent to Senator Lugar. [148] A Wall Street Journal op ed by Claudia Rosett on December 5, 2006, said in part, "Bolton has been valiant in his efforts to clean up UN corruption and malfeasance, and follow UN procedure in dealing with such threats as a nuclear North Korea, a Hezbollah bid to take over Lebanon, and the nuclearization of Hezbollah's terror-masters in Iran. But it has been like watching one man trying to move a tsunami of mud."[ citation needed ]

John Bolton in 2008 John R. Bolton, US Diplomat 2008.jpg
John Bolton in 2008

National Security Advisor (2018–)

As NSA in May 2018: (l to r) Bolton, Mike Pompeo, President Trump, Vice President Pence Secretary Pompeo Poses for a Photo With Advisor Bolton, President Trump and Vice President Pence (41811551572).jpg
As NSA in May 2018: (l to r) Bolton, Mike Pompeo, President Trump, Vice President Pence

Speculation on position (2016–2017)

In an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt during the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign, Republican nominee Donald Trump named Bolton as a possible choice for Secretary of State. Appearing on Fox News' Fox and Friends on December 1, 2016, Bolton admitted he was being considered as a Secretary of State candidate for the incoming Trump administration. [149] [150] Several Trump associates claim Bolton was not chosen, in part, due to Trump's disdain for Bolton's signature mustache. [151]

The evening of December 10, the BBC cited NBC reports that "sources close to Mr Trump [were] ... saying that Mr Tillerson is likely to be named next week" and that former UN ambassador John Bolton "will serve as his deputy". [152]

Bolton has supported theories about the health of Hillary Clinton and about her aide Huma Abedin, and in December 2016 Bolton stated that the conclusion of the United States Intelligence Community that Russian hackers intervened to help elect Donald Trump in 2016 may have been a "false flag" operation. [153] In a subsequent interview on Fox News, Bolton criticized the Obama administration's retaliatory sanctions as insufficient and suggest that the US response should "make them [the Russians] feel pain". [154] [155]


President Trump interviewed Bolton and three others to determine who would fill the position of National Security Advisor vacated by Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn. [156] [157] The position ultimately went to H. R. McMaster. [158] Trump "made a point on Monday of praising Mr. Bolton and saying that he would find a position for him in his administration eventually." [159] Bolton was seen at the White House on the evening of March 6, 2018, presumably to be interviewed as a candidate for national security adviser. [160]

U.S. Defense Secretary James N. Mattis greets the National Security Advisor-designate Bolton at the Pentagon in March 2018 U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis greets the National Security Advisor-designate John R. Bolton at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.jpg
U.S. Defense Secretary James N. Mattis greets the National Security Advisor-designate Bolton at the Pentagon in March 2018

The New York Times reported on March 22, 2018, that John Bolton would replace National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, which was confirmed by Trump in a tweet on March 22, 2018. Bolton began his position as National Security Advisor on April 9, 2018. [161] [162] The New York Times wrote that the rise of Bolton and Mike Pompeo, coupled with the departure of Rex Tillerson and General McMaster, meant that Trump's foreign policy team was now "the most radically aggressive foreign policy team around the American president in modern memory", and compared it to the foreign policy team surrounding George W. Bush, notably with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. [163]

On April 10, 2018, Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert resigned at Bolton's request, [164] and Bolton said he is considering a merger of the NSC with the Homeland Security Council. [165] During his first week in office Bolton requested and obtained the resignations of multiple National Security Council employees including NSC spokesman Michael Anton (April 8), deputy national security adviser Nadia Schadlow (April 10), and deputy national security adviser Ricky L. Waddell (April 12). [165] CNN reported in September 2018 that Bolton had significantly shrunk the number of NSC personnel, cutting it to under 300. [166] [167]

Bolton and President Trump made Christmas visit to U.S. troops in Iraq and spoke on the phone with Iraq Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi on December 26, 2018 President Trump the First Lady Visit Troops in Iraq (31562961427).jpg
Bolton and President Trump made Christmas visit to U.S. troops in Iraq and spoke on the phone with Iraq Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi on December 26, 2018

On September 10, 2018, in his first major address as National Security Advisor, Bolton criticized the International Criminal Court, saying it lacks checks and balances, exercises "jurisdiction over crimes that have disputed and ambiguous definitions," and has failed to "deter and punish atrocity crimes." Calling the ICC a threat to "American sovereignty and U.S. national security," Bolton said it is "superfluous," given that "domestic judicial systems already hold American citizens to the highest legal and ethical standards." He added that the U.S. would do everything "to protect our citizens" should the ICC attempt to prosecute U.S. servicemen over alleged detainee abuse in Afghanistan, and it would bar ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the U.S. and sanction their funds. He also criticized Palestinian efforts to bring Israel before the ICC over allegations of human rights abuses in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. [168] [169] [170]

In 2018, Bolton requested that the Pentagon provide the White House with options for military strikes against Iran. According to the New York Times, Bolton "intensified the administration's policy of isolating and pressuring Iran — reflecting an animus against Iran's leaders that dates back to his days as an official in the George W. Bush administration. As a private citizen, he later called for military strikes on Iran, as well as regime change." [171]

As national security advisor, Bolton eliminated the kinds of internal policy debates that his predecessor H. R. McMaster had in place. The New York Times writes that this change in practices contributed to Trump's sudden and erratic decision to withdraw the United States from Syria in January 2019. [172]

As National Security Advisor, Bolton advanced policies skeptical and hostile toward international organizations. [173] By his first year as National Security Advisor, Bolton had reshaped the National Security Council and become influential within the Trump Administration. [174] [175] [176]

By May 2019, Trump had undercut some of Bolton's major hard line positions, stating he was not seeking regime change in Iran and contradicting Bolton's correct assertion that North Korea had recently violated United Nations resolutions by testing new short-range missiles. [177]

Punditry and conservative activism

Bolton was executive director of the Committee on Resolutions in the Republican National Committee from 1983 to 1984. [178]

Between 1997 and 2000, Bolton worked as an assistant to James Baker when he was the UN Secretary-General envoy to the Western Sahara. [179] Since 2006, he has been a paid Fox News contributor and a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. [51] [52] For 2017, he reported an income of $569,000 from Fox News. [180] Bolton was a contributor to The Weekly Standard , an American conservative opinion magazine, from 1997 to 2000, and again from 2014 to 2016. [181]

From 2013 until March 2018, Bolton was chairman of the far-right anti-Muslim Gatestone Institute, which is prominent for disseminating false anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim information. [15] In 2018, the White House reported that Bolton's total income for 2017 had been $2.2 million which included $569,000 from Fox News and $747,000 in speaking fees from, among others, the Victor Pinchuk Foundation (a Ukrainian NGO), Deutsche Bank, and HSBC. [180]

2012 presidential election

Bolton considered running for president in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. He received attention in conservative circles, including the cover of the December 31, 2010 issue of National Review magazine. He told Politico: "As I survey the situation, I think the Republican field is wide open. I don't think the party's anywhere close to a decision. And stranger things have happened. For example, inexperienced senators from Illinois have gotten presidential nominations." [182] In September 2011, Bolton said that he would not run for President of the United States in 2012. [183]

During the Republican primary, Republican presidential-hopeful Newt Gingrich said that he would ask Bolton to serve as his Secretary of State. [184] In January 2012, Bolton endorsed Mitt Romney for the 2012 Republican Nomination. [185]

American Enterprise Institute

Bolton was senior vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, from 1997 to 2001. [186] At the time, he frequently wrote columns criticizing the Clinton administration's foreign policy. [64] Bolton said Clinton's policy on Iraq was "worse than incompetent", his policy on North Korea was "egregiously wrong", and his Libya policy was a "catastrophic loss of U.S. credibility." [64]

After leaving the George W. Bush Administration in 2006, Bolton returned to the American Enterprise Institute as a Senior Fellow. [186] In Bolton's time at the American Enterprise Institute, he spoke against the policy of rewarding North Korea for ending its nuclear weapons program. [187] He said the policy would encourage others to violate nuclear non-proliferation rules so that they could then be rewarded for following the rules they'd already agreed to. [187]

In July 2013, Bolton was identified as a key member of Groundswell, a secretive coalition of right-wing activists and journalists attempting to advance political change behind the scenes through lobbying of high-level contacts. [188]

John Bolton Super PAC

In 2013, Bolton set up the John Bolton Super PAC. It raised $11.3 million for Republican candidates in the 2014 and 2016 elections and spent $5.6 million, paying Cambridge Analytica at least $650,000 for voter data analysis and digital video ad targeting in support of the campaigns of Senators Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and of former U.S. Senator (R-MA) Scott Brown's unsuccessful 2014 bid for a U.S. Senate seat for New Hampshire. [189] [190] [191] In September 2016, Bolton announced that his Super PAC would spend $1 million on (R-N.C.) Senator Richard Burr's reelection effort by targeting ads at "social media users and Dish Network and Direct TV subscribers". [192]

The Center for Public Integrity analysed the John Bolton Super PAC's campaign finance filings and found that they paid Cambridge Analytica more than $1.1 million since 2014 for "research" and "survey research". [193] According to Federal Election Commission filings, Cambridge Analytica was paid more than $811,000 by them in the 2016 presidential election; [194] in the same election cycle, the Super PAC spent around $2.5 million in support of Republican U.S. Senate candidates. [193]

Bolton stated that he aims to raise and spend $25 million for up to 90 Republican candidates in the 2018 midterm elections. [195] In January 2018, Bolton announced a $1 million advertising campaign in support of Kevin Nicholson's bid for the Republican nomimation to run against incumbent Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. [195] [196] The Super PAC ran an ad campaign in the Green Bay area in January 2018; on March 19, 2018, the Super PAC announced a two-week $278,000 television and radio ad campaign in the Milwaukee area. [197]

Major donors to the John Bolton Super PAC are Robert Mercer, who gave $4 million from 2012 to 2016; Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus, and Los Angeles real estate developer Geoffrey Palmer. [189]

After Bolton was appointed National Security Advisor in March 2018, the John Bolton Super PAC and the John Bolton PAC announced that their political activities were suspended temporarily, effective March 31, 2018. The Super PAC's FEC filings showed a balance of $2.6 million in unspent donations at the end of March 2018. [198] [199]

Political positions

Bolton, President Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12, 2018 Bilateral meeting with respective delegations during the DPRK-USA Singapore Summit (3).jpg
Bolton, President Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12, 2018
Bolton with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in September 2018 President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko bid farewell to U.S. Senator John McCain (1).jpg
Bolton with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in September 2018

He declared himself in an interview with Edward Luce of the Financial Times in 2007 to be a "Goldwater conservative", as opposed to being a neoconservative. [200] He also pointed out that he was a follower of Edmund Burke. He also said "I have always been a conservative. The idea of big-government conservatism has more neocon adherents than from unmodified conservatives."

Unilateralism and sovereignty

Bolton is skeptical of international organizations and international law, believing them to endanger American sovereignty, and does not believe they have legitimate authority under the U.S. Constitution. [201] [202] He criticized the Obama administration's foreign policy for what he perceived as surrendering U.S. sovereignty. [203] He also prefers unilateralism over multilateralism. [201] In a 2000 article in the Chicago Journal of International Law , Bolton described himself as a "convinced Americanist", favoring it over what he described as "globalism". [204] In his roles in the U.S. government, however, Bolton has been more pragmatic in his actions toward international organizations, [205] though according to Foreign Policy , he effectively advanced his views on this subject during his tenure in the Trump Administration. [173]

Bolton has criticized the International Criminal Court, seeing it as a threat to U.S. sovereignty. [206] Bolton said: "If the court comes after us, Israel or other US allies, we will not sit quietly. We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States. We will sanction their funds in the US financial system, and we will prosecute them in the US criminal system." [207]

European Union

Bolton is a critic of the European Union. In his book Surrender Is Not an Option, he criticized the EU for pursuing "the endless process of diplomatic mastication" rather than satisfactorily solving problems, and he labeled the organization's diplomats as "EUroids". [208] He has also criticized the EU for advancing what he considers liberal policies. [209] Bolton campaigned in Ireland against further EU integration in 2008, and he criticized the Treaty of Lisbon for expanding EU powers. [210] In 2016, Bolton praised the UK's referendum vote to leave the EU, [211] and Axios reported in January 2019 that Bolton continued to advocate for a hard Brexit as National Security Advisor. [212] In a March 2019 interview with Sky News, Bolton criticized the UK "political class" for not implementing the Brexit vote. [213]


Bolton opposed the deal that George W. Bush made with then Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to eliminate the country's weapons of mass destruction program. [26] He was in a key role during initial negotiations but his role became limited over time. According to a 2005 study, Bolton was intentionally kept out of the loop, so that a final agreement could be reached: "Bolton reportedly was unaware of the December 19 WMD agreement until very shortly before its public announcement. And after initially being given a lead role in implementing it, he pushed so hard to backtrack from the agreement that the British convinced the Bush administration to restrict his involvement in the Libya matter." [26]

Bolton supported the NATO-led military intervention in Libya that toppled the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. [214] [215]


Bolton was an architect of the Iraq War. [216] [217] [218] He supported the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein and continued to support the invasion in 2018. [219] [220] In 2007, Bolton said the only mistake that the United States did with regard to Iraq was to not leave earlier after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and tell the Iraqis "Here's a copy of the Federalist Papers. Good luck." [221] In 1998, Bolton was a signatory to a letter sent to President Bill Clinton urging him to remove Saddam Hussein from power using U.S. diplomatic, political and military power. [222]


Bolton with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in August 2018 Reuven Rivlin with John Bolton (9475).jpg
Bolton with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in August 2018

Bolton is known for his strong support for Israel. [223] [224] Bolton opposes the two-state solution of creating an independent Palestinian state alongside the existing state of Israel. [225] Bolton supported moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in accordance with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, [226] and he testified in front of Congress in 2017 on the matter. [227] In 2010, Bolton co-founded the Friends of Israel Initiative with 12 other international figures. [228]

North Korea and Iran

Bolton has advocated for pre-emptive strikes against North Korea and Iran. In 2008, Bolton said: "The idea here is not to have much larger hostilities, but to stop the Iranians from engaging in the hostilities that they're already doing against us inside Iraq. And they're doing much the same by aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan. So this is not provocative or preemptive, this is entirely responsive on our part." [229] In 2018, Bolton stated: "Russia, China, Syria, Iran, North Korea. These are regimes that make agreements and lie about them. A national security policy that is based on the faith that regimes like that will honor their commitments is doomed to failure." [230] He also said that "Our goal should be regime change in Iran." [225] The New Yorker, described the people who have worked with Bolton as saying "he is focused less on North Korea than on Iran". H. R. McMaster has reportedly told Dexter Fikins that Bolton have had "[the] anal focus on Iran for twenty years". [231]

Speaking to a meeting of Iranian exile group Mujahedin-e-Khalq in March 2018, Bolton stated that the Trump administration should follow the goal of regime change in Iran and that "before 2019, we here ... will celebrate in Iran." Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recounted the prediction by describing the U.S. official making the prediction as a "first class idiot", without naming anyone. [232]

People's Mujahedin of Iran

Prior to it being de-listed by the US as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2012, Bolton spoke in favor of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (also known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK), in at least one case being paid to do so. MEK has a long anti-American history. [233] [234] [235] According to the State Department, the MEK "[f]ollow[s] a philosophy that mixes Marxism and Islam." [235]

On January 25, 2011, Bolton drew a standing ovation at a MEK conference in Brussels for his support of the MEK, giving a speech in which he "backed MEK's legitimacy, and the notion of removing it from the list of terrorist organizations". [236]

According to his financial disclosure, he was given $40,000 for his 2016 speech to MEK. [231]

In May 2018, Joanne Stocker, a journalist and researcher studying the MEK, told Richard Engel of the MSNBC that she estimates Bolton was paid "on the low-end, $180,000". Bolton's office has refused to comment on the matter. [237]

According to the 5 U.S.C. app. § 101-required 'US Public Financial Disclosure Report' (2018) for Bolton, released by Al-Monitor, he has received $40,000 of speaking fee for "Global Events--European Iranian Events" on 1 June 2017, [238] the same day he made a speech for the MEK in a gathering in Paris, France. [239]


Bolton meets with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu in Moscow in October 2018 Sergey Shoigu and John Bolton (2018-10-23) 1.jpg
Bolton meets with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu in Moscow in October 2018

In 2013, after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden had been granted asylum in Russia, Bolton said: "I think in order to focus Putin's thinking, we need to do things that cause him pain as well. And while I know that not having a chance to have a bilateral meeting with his buddy Barack Obama will cause Putin to lose sleep, it's not damaging Russian interests." [230]

Russian Senator Aleksey Pushkov, former chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, said after Bolton's appointment: "Bolton, along with Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, was an ardent supporter of the war in Iraq. A supporter of jihadists for the sake of overthrowing [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad]. A great specialist in interventions and aggression, and adept at the use of force. McMaster is a general. Bolton is the ideologue of a new cold war, a convinced opponent of Russia." [240]

In a June 2017 article entitled "Vladimir Putin looked Trump in the eye and lied to him. We negotiate with Russia at our peril," Bolton called Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections "a true act of war." [241] As Trump's national security advisor in July 2018, Bolton referred to the investigation into the Russian interference as "the Russia witch hunt.". [242]


Bolton criticized Washington's One-China policy, under which Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, is not recognized as an independent nation, with recognition only being given to the People's Republic of China. He also said: "There's simply no excuse for the stealing of intellectual property, forced technology transfers it's sometimes called." [223]

Latin America

Bolton with Brazil's president-elect Jair Bolsonaro in Rio de Janeiro in November 2018 Encontro do Assessor de Seguranca Nacional dos EUA John Bolton com Presidente Eleito do Brasil Jair Bolsonaro 2.jpg
Bolton with Brazil's president-elect Jair Bolsonaro in Rio de Janeiro in November 2018

In a speech on November 1, 2018, Bolton praised Brazil's president-elect Jair Bolsonaro and Colombia's president Iván Duque Márquez, both right-wing conservatives, calling them "like-minded" partners. In the speech, he also framed Bolsonaro's recent election victory as a "positive sign" for Latin America, and he criticized Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua as a "troika of tyranny." [243] [244] [245] [246]

Criticism of the Obama administration

Bolton speaks on foreign policy challenges facing the Obama Administration at Chatham House Ambassador John R Bolton, Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute; US Permanent Representative to the United Nations (2005-6) (8401311507).jpg
Bolton speaks on foreign policy challenges facing the Obama Administration at Chatham House

In December 2012, Bolton suggested that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faked a concussion to avoid testifying before Congress regarding the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Bolton stated "When you don't want to go to a meeting or conference or an event you have a 'diplomatic illness'. And this is a diplomatic illness to beat the band." [247] [248] [249]

In 2010, he wrote a foreword for the book The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America, authored by far-right anti-Muslim commentators Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. [250] [251] Bolton endorsed their book, writing: "This book carries forward the ongoing and increasingly widespread critique of Barack Obama as our first post-American president. What it recounts is disturbing, and its broader implications are more disturbing still." [252]

Personal life

Bolton is married to Gretchen Smith Bolton, a financial planner with AXA Advisors. Together they have a daughter, Jennifer, and reside in Bethesda, Maryland. [253] He is a Lutheran. [254]


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Cabinet of Donald Trump The cabinet appointed officers of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States under the administration of Donald Trump

This article lists the members of President Donald Trump's Cabinet. Trump assumed office on January 20, 2017, and the president has the authority to nominate members of his Cabinet to the United States Senate for confirmation under Appointments Clause of the United States Constitution.

Michael Anton American political person

Michael Anton is an American former senior national security official in the Trump administration. He is best known for his pseudonymous essays written during the 2016 presidential campaign in which he supported Donald Trump and collaborated on the pro-Trump Journal of American Greatness blog. Anton was named Deputy Assistant to the President for Strategic Communications on the United States National Security Council. He is a former speechwriter for Rudy Giuliani and George W. Bush's National Security Council, and has worked as director of communications at investment bank Citigroup and as managing director of investing firm BlackRock.

Kelly Craft American businesswoman and diplomat

Kelly Dawn Knight Craft is an American political donor and diplomat who is currently serving as the United States Ambassador to Canada, the first woman to hold that post. She was appointed by President George W. Bush as a U.S. alternate delegate to the United Nations in 2007, where her focus included U.S. engagement in Africa. She was a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention from Kentucky. She headed Kelly G. Knight LLC, a business advisory firm based in Lexington, Kentucky.

Foreign policy of the Donald Trump administration Current U.S. foreign policy

The stated aims of the foreign policy of the Donald Trump administration include a focus on security, by fighting terrorists abroad and strengthening border defenses and immigration controls; an expansion of the U.S. military; an "America First" approach to trade; and diplomacy whereby "old enemies become friends". The foreign policy positions expressed by Trump during his presidential campaign changed frequently, making it "difficult to glean a political agenda, or even a set of clear, core policy values ahead of his presidency." During his presidential inauguration speech, Trump said that during his presidency the U.S. would "not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow." He also stated that his administration would "seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world," and that he understands the "right of all nations to put their own interests first."

Mira Ricardel politician

Mira Radielovic Ricardel, formerly Mira Baratta, is an American government official who served as Deputy National Security Advisor from May 2018 to November 2018, until being fired at the request of First Lady Melania Trump.

Troika of tyranny

Troika of tyranny is a description of the nations of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela used by United States National Security Advisor John R. Bolton in outlining United States foreign policy towards those nations. Bolton has alternately described the three countries as the "triangle of terror" and the "three stooges of socialism", stating that the three are "the cause of immense human suffering, the impetus of enormous regional instability, and the genesis of a sordid cradle of communism in the western hemisphere".


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