John Bolton, who has held prominent positions under four Republican presidents, seemed to let it slip this week that he has been involved in planning and executing coups d’etat in unspecified countries throughout his career.
The shocking admission came on Tuesday during an interview with CNN anchor Jake Tapper.
As they discussed the allegation that former President Donald Trump planned a coup ahead of the riot on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6, 2021, the former national security adviser insisted that there was no such plan in place.
He called it “a mistake” for Trump’s critics to suggest “that somehow this was a carefully planned coup d’etat aimed at the Constitution,” claiming that the former president lacks the capacity for developing such a complex scheme.
“It’s Donald Trump looking after Donald Trump,” he declared, going on to speak from his own experience.
Bolton disagreed with Tapper’s assertion that it does not take a “brilliant” mastermind to orchestrate a coup, adding: “As somebody who has helped plan coups d’etat – not here, but other places – it takes a lot of work. And that’s not what [Trump] did. It was just stumbling around from one idea to another.”
Even Tapper was taken aback by the casual confession, returning to the topic later in the interview for some clarification.
Although he declined to “get into the specifics,” he admitted limited involvement in a 2019 coup attempt in Venezuela that sought to oust President Nicolas Maduro.
“Not that we had that much to do with it, but I saw what it took for an opposition to try and overturn an illegally elected president,” Bolton said. “And they failed.”
The acknowledgment sparked massive backlash from across the political spectrum, including U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who shared a clip of the interview and declared that blocking Bolton from becoming secretary of state was one of his “proudest moments.”
The Kentucky Republican offered a similar assessment more than two years ago.
Even Venezuelan officials chimed in to denounce Bolton’s rhetoric.
Following a vote by the National Assembly to officially condemn the remarks, its president offered some particularly harsh criticism. Jorge Rodriguez called Bolton a “psychopath” and said that his remarks on CNN demonstrated “an extraordinary feat of brazenness.”