John Bolton for Secretary of State? Trump could do a lot worse, and arguably not much better than the experienced diplomat and national-security analyst. Hugh Hewitt has been pushing the Trump campaign to start naming its Cabinet positions since Trump clinched the nomination, particularly when it comes to national-security appointments. Appearing on Hugh’s show this morning, Bolton endorsed Trump and said he’d be pleased to consider serving in that capacity, at least:
HH: Now let me turn to Donald Trump. I have urged him to name his cabinet. I have specifically urged him to name you as his Secretary of State designate. If Donald Trump asked you to serve in that capacity as Secretary of State, would you agree to do so?
JB: Well, number one, with respect to your role, I am deeply grateful, and it’s an honor to be considered. You know, you’ve got to talk to somebody about a job like that. It’s not just enough to take a position so you can put it on your resume. You need to be sure, particularly with the State Department, you’ve got an understanding with the president. He runs foreign policy. Let’s be clear about that. But you have to understand exactly what your role would be and so on, and I think that’s a conversation any responsible person would have. But I’ve been honored, privileged, really, to serve in a number of senior positions at State and Justice over the years. And as you know, it’s an honor to serve the country. So obviously, you’d take it very, very seriously.
Why not name the Cabinet now? It might cause more problems than it solves, politically speaking. Getting a team of big names would certainly give a better impression of Trump’s seriousness about the presidency than many have perceived thus far, but that also means leaving supporters out, too. Candidates need all hands on deck in general elections, with at least the hope of snagging high-profile positions in the next administration as incentive for enthusiasm and engagement. That might be especially true for Trump, whose troubles in uniting the Right behind his cause have been obvious for weeks, if not months.
Hugh picks up the James Carville defense of the Clinton Foundation and asks Bolton whether it holds water:
HH: John Bolton, in the last day, we have learned that S. Daniel Abraham, a major donor of the Democratic Party, wanted a meeting with Hillary Clinton. He went through the Foundation. Bono wanted a satellite link to the Space Station. He went through the Foundation. The Crown Prince of Bahrain wanted a meeting with Hillary Clinton. He went through the Foundation. Casey Wasserman wanted a visa for a crook. He went through the Foundation. And Gilbert Chagoury, a Nigerian billionaire who had to pay the Nigerian government $300 million dollars to avoid being prosecuted for a variety of evil acts, in fact went through the Foundation to connect up with Hillary Clinton’s team at the State Department. What does this record tell you?
JB: Well, it tells me that Hillary and her staff, and the Clinton Foundation, violated every pledge, every promise they made during her confirmation process to keep the activities of the Clinton Foundation from slopping over into the government. You know, just so people understand this, obviously not everybody has worked for the federal government, especially in a senior position. I can tell you, having come out of the private sector several times to serve in government, it’s almost like joining a monastery. You have to renounce every private sector connection that you have, certainly anything that has to do with finances, but a lot of other things – charitable organizations. You have to resign from pretty much everything other than your church. But when Hillary was nominated for Secretary of State, they found the regulations didn’t cover this new emerging area where you’ve got your husband, your daughter, your hangers on all involved in a ostensibly charitable or not for profit organization that’s going to continue once she was at the State Department. So hence all these pledges and promises during the confirmation process, which she routinely ignored. I’d like to know where the legal advisor was at the State Department for these four years. Were they just asleep at the switch as they were on the national security threat caused by her emails? Did the whole department just roll over and say the rules don’t apply to them? I mean, it’s just stunning. And again, from the perspective of anybody else that I’ve ever known working in the government, the separation that you go through is one reason a lot of people don’t want to go into the government. They don’t feel they can cut off their business or their charitable works or whatever. It’s too great a split unless you name is Hillary Clinton.
HH: John Bolton, the one that stands out to me is Gilbert Chagoury, the Nigerian-Lebanese billionaire that I referenced. He was a business partner of Marc Rich. Marc Rich was an international fugitive, 65 counts of indictment against him, including doing business in Iran when Americans were being held hostage there, that Chagoury is Marc Rich’s business partner. Is that a story, because it has not appeared in any major newspaper since the August 10th revelation that he used Doug Band in April of 2009 to reach the Clinton State Department?
JB: Yeah, well, you know, it’s not surprising. Fox basically broke that story, and the mass, you know, the absence of any interest by the mass media is not at all surprising. If this were a Republican, if this had been something that I was involved in, by God, the baying hounds would have been after it in a heartbeat. This whole thing, the whole transaction, the real estate transaction they were looking at in Nigeria, sends up a lot of red flags to me. And I think the question you’re asking really reinforces the point I was trying to make a minute ago. The mechanisms within the State Department to watch out for conflicts of interest are quite vigorous. And you know, you’re supposed to be as a person of integrity working in a senior State Department position very aware of the potential conflict of interest. When there’s ever any doubt in your mind, you should go to the legal advisor’s office, go to the designated agency ethics official and say look, here are the facts, what am I supposed to do. There’s no evidence that any of that happened on Chagoury, on many of these other things. And I think it really is a character question. It’s a character question about honesty. It’s a question about integrity and ethics. And it’s not enough to say well, you know, this person may have done something like that in the past. This is a consistent course of conduct for four straight years while she was Secretary of State, and not only what she was doing, but what her aides were doing.
Bolton would make an excellent addition to a new administration’s nat-sec team, of course, in some capacity. As one can see in my interview with Bolton from the RedState Gathering earlier this month, he’s calm, professional, and thoroughly informed on a broad range of topics:
In fact, he’s so good that it’s a wonder that Team Trump doesn’t make better use of him as a surrogate.