Eeenteresting, because John Kelly and John Bolton didn’t necessarily mesh well together in the Trump White House during their respective tenures. In an appearance last night, Trump’s former chief of staff told a Sarasota audience that he hasn’t read Bolton’s manuscript or spoken with the former national security adviser about what happened with Ukraine aid. However, Kelly endorsed Bolton’s honesty and integrity, saying “I believe John Bolton.”
Left unsaid was any comparison to Donald Trump, but ….
“If John Bolton says that in the book I believe John Bolton,” said retired Gen. John Kelly, who served as Trump’s chief of staff for 18 months. …
“Every single time I was with him … he always gave the president the unvarnished truth,” Kelly said of Bolton, who has become a figure of intense interest in the impeachment inquiry. …
Asked about the passages in Bolton’s book — which has yet to be released — that appear to reinforce the impeachment allegations, Kelly said Monday evening that “John’s an honest guy. He’s a man of integrity and great character, so we’ll see what happens.”
Also left unsaid is whether Bolton’s memoir actually says what reports indicate, and in how much detail. That has yet to be known, by Kelly and pretty much everyone else, which makes this a rather safe statement. In fact, it makes it a rather uneventful statement too, since Kelly had left the White House in January 2019, a few months before the Ukrainian aid situation arose. Not only does Kelly not know what Bolton says in the book, he wouldn’t know what Bolton told Trump or vice versa about Ukraine aid between May and September of last year. Kelly’s a character witness at best, not a fact witness.
Still, Kelly’s endorsement of Bolton’s integrity certainly contradicts the rebuttal strategy at the White House and the RNC, where Bolton’s being called “John the Backstabber.” In a character fight between Bolton and Trump, who wins? Outside of Trump’s base, that is? Kelly’s thoughts on that subject are likely to be widely shared, and not just among Democrats. Given that they didn’t always see eye to eye on policy, this might make Kelly’s character witness a little stronger. Remember their feud on immigration and national security in late 2018 involving Kirstjen Nielsen?
That, however, raises another interesting point about Bolton’s renaissance on the Left. He has been for more than a decade Democrats’ bête noire on foreign policy. They have accused Bolton of being a radical neo-con, a wolf in slightly less frightening wolf’s clothing, ready to destroy America’s diplomatic standing to advance his hardline politics. Senate Democrats led by Chuck Schumer as the £2 caucus leader at the time filibustered his appointment as UN Ambassador, forcing George W. Bush to use a recess appointment to fill the slot. The reason that Trump added Bolton as national security adviser is because there appeared to be little chance of Bolton winning Senate confirmation to any other post, especially given suspicions about Bolton’s alleged predilection for foreign wars among Republicans like Rand Paul and Mike Lee, among others.
Now, suddenly, the man who couldn’t be trusted to meet diplomats at the UN is the voice of reason in Ukraine-Gate? I mean, that’s certainly possible, as Bolton has made his reputation for his bluntness, but it’s a change in posture for Democrats that might require full-time chiropractic care. It will be quite amusing to see Senate Democrats — and the mainstream media, for that matter — line up to declare their reliance on John Bolton’s integrity and love of country at this late date. Perhaps it will be most amusing to Bolton himself.
And let’s not forget that it really doesn’t matter much anyway whether there was a quid pro quo or not, as Alan Dershowitz argued yesterday. Bolton’s going to get rehabilitated on the cheap.