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John Bolton, Trump’s pick for national security adviser, has a record of warmongering, bigotry, and pushing conspiracy theories

John Bolton, a Fox News contributor, is reportedly under consideration to replace National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, likely because President Donald Trump enjoys his television commentary. Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations whose tenure was marred by “his inability to make friends and build alliances,” is a Trump sycophant with a history of warmongering and conspiracy theorizing. He also chairs a think tank that’s been called “anti-Muslim,” and he has connections to anti-Muslim bigots.

  • John Bolton will replace current National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, likely because Trump enjoys his commentary

    The New York Times: Trump will replace current national security adviser H.R. McMaster with John Bolton.

    Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the battle-tested Army officer tapped as President Trump’s national security adviser last year to stabilize a turbulent foreign policy operation, will resign and be replaced by John R. Bolton, a hard-line former United States ambassador to the United Nations, White House officials said Thursday.

    Mr. Bolton, who will take office April 9, has met regularly with Mr. Trump to discuss foreign policy, and was on a list of candidates for national security adviser. He was in the West Wing with Mr. Trump to discuss the job on Thursday. [The New York Times, 3/22/18]

    The Economist: Bolton’s tenure at the United Nations was marked by “his inability, or unwillingness, to make friends and build alliances.” The Economist noted Bolton’s lack of fitness for international diplomacy and “his inability, or unwillingness, to make friends and build alliances in an organisation where networking, compromise and consensus are the order of the day.” The Economist also quoted a “Western ambassador” who described Bolton as “a bully” and a UN senior official who said, “Bolton's main achievement has been to unify the G77 [a group of 131 developing nations plus China] and to radicalize them.” [The Economist, 12/7/06, Media Matters, 11/16/16]

    During his presidential campaign, Trump mentioned Bolton’s TV appearances when asked whom he goes to for military advice. Bolton has no combat experience. During an August 16, 2015, interview for NBC’s Meet the Press, then-candidate Trump said that for military advice “I watch the shows” and that he liked Bolton because “he’s a tough cookie, knows what he’s talking about.” Bolton has no combat experience; according to Slate, the Yale Daily News reported on the class of 1970 alumnus: “Though Bolton supported the Vietnam War, he declined to enter combat duty, instead enlisting in the National Guard.” [Crooks and Liars, 8/16/15; Fox News Radio, Kilmeade & Friends, 8/17/15; Slate, 4/29/05]

    Bolton has repeatedly praised Trump on Fox and headlined fundraisers for him

    Bolton called Trump’s United Nations speech “the best speech of the Trump presidency.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 9/17/17]

    Bolton praised Trump’s speech in which he calls for increasing troops in Afghanistan. During a guest appearance on Fox News’ Hannity, Bolton praised Trump for a speech in which he pledged to “end a strategy of ‘nation building’” and to  increase the number of troops in Afghanistan: “Much of what the president said is exactly right.” [Fox News, Hannity, 8/22/17, The Washington Post, 8/21/17]

    Bolton has headlined three fundraisers for Trump. As documented by Media Matters, Bolton has headlined three fundraising events for Trump, organized by various Republican Party organizations. [Media Matters, 1/9/18]

    Bolton has a record of warmongering

    Bolton has advocated a strike-first policy on North Korea and has pushed for military intervention over diplomacy. Bolton has, on more than one occasion, made the case for “striking North Korea first.”[The Wall Street Journal, 2/28/18; Media Matters, 10/23/10, 4/13/17]

    Bolton opposed the diplomatic approach of the Iran-US deal, advocating for overthrowing the Iranian government and repeatedly calling for pre-emptive attacks on Iran. Bolton has repeatedly called for military intervention in Iran, saying that “we need to bring that regime down.” While criticizing President Barack Obama for the Iran deal, Bolton claimed, “If we had a real president,” the U.S. could “overthrow” the Iranian government. He has also repeatedly called for strikes and direct attacks on Iran, on one occasion claiming during an appearance on Fox’s Lou Dobbs Tonight that “the pre-emptive use of military force” was the only way to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. In 2015, he penned a New York Times op-ed advocating for bombing Iran instead of engaging in diplomacy [Media Matters, 1/4/18, 10/30/11, 2/29/12, 9/13/16, 1/11/12, 11/25/13, 3/7/12, 8/10/10; The New York Times, 3/26/15]

    Bolton referred to Obama’s call to reduce nuclear arms as “a program of weakness.” [Fox News, Happening Now, 6/19/13; Media Matters, 6/20/13]

    Bolton called for defunding the UN.  [Gatestone Institute, 12/27/17]

    Bolton has spread conspiracy theories in his media appearances

    After the CIA concluded that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election, Bolton said the country’s hacking of Democratic National Committee emails actually could have been a “false flag operation” to misleadingly implicate Russia.  In appearances on Fox News on December 11 and 12, 2016, Bolton suggested that the hacking of the Democratic National Committee could have been a “false flag operation” meant to misleadingly implicate Russia. Earlier in 2016, he also floated the conspiracy theory that the hacking had been done by supporters of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.  [Media Matters, 12/12/16, 7/27/16]

    Bolton disseminated multiple conspiracy theories regarding the investigation of the 2012 terrorist attacks against U.S. government facilities in Benghazi. Bolton suggested that Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi produced no new information in their report because the committee was “obstructed.” He also claimed then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faked a “diplomatic illness” to avoid testifying. [Fox News, Happening Now, 6/29/16; Media Matters, 11/16/16, 12/18/12]

    Bolton defended former Rep. Michele Bachmann for suggesting the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the US government. [The Frank Gaffney Show, 7/24/12, via RightWingWatch; Media Matters, 11/16/16]

    Bolton has ties to anti-Muslim bigotry

    Bolton has ties to anti-Muslim extremists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. Bolton’s ties to anti-Muslim extremists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer have been well-documented and go as far back as 2005, when Geller endorsed Bolton as President George W. Bush’s choice for ambassador to the U.N. Geller has interviewed Bolton multiple times, and he wrote the foreword to a book Geller and Spencer penned in 2010.  [ThinkProgress, 8/2/11; Southern Poverty Law Center, 10/25/16]

    Bolton chairs the “anti-Muslim” Gatestone Institute. The Gatestone Institute, which calls itself a “non-partisan, not-for-profit international policy council and think tank [] dedicated to educating the public about what the mainstream media fails to report,” has been called an “anti-Muslim” think tank. It’s known for having published the debunked anti-Muslim myth that certain cities contain Muslim-dominated neighborhoods that are off limits to non-Muslims. [Lobe Log, 4/13/17; Southern Poverty Law Center, 5/26/17; Gatestone Institute, 1/20/15; Snopes.com, 3/30/15]

    This post was updated to reflect reporting that Bolton would be Trump's national security adviser.