Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton talked about President Trump’s upcoming overseas trip, politically motivated leaks designed to damage the Trump presidency, and the release of Chelsea Manning from prison on Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Alex Marlow.
“On the first leg, the visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel, he’s scheduled to give some very important speeches,” Bolton said of Trump’s overseas journey. “One thinks of Obama’s speech in Cairo near the beginning of his administration, and what that signaled, and the disasters that followed from that because of Obama’s inability to understand the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. Trump now has an opportunity to set out his view, which we know is very different, in Saudi.”
“And then of course the visit to our most important ally in the region, Israel, is I think an excellent way to show the strength of the relationship, especially after all the media clamor in this country about the intelligence that Trump supposedly revealed to the Russian Foreign Minister, and all the consequences of that – which has been reported hysterically, although with a notable absence of real facts for the past week,” he said.
Bolton said bilateral meetings with foreign leaders and the Secretary-General of NATO would give Trump an opportunity to “show that he’s in command of the U.S. government, and to calm down a lot of the speculation and rumors about what his policies are.”
“I know that it’s a long trip. It doesn’t necessarily come at the best time, given everything else that’s going on, but these foreign trips are scheduled long in advance,” he noted. “I think the president needs to follow the advice he gave to the Coast Guard graduating students a few days ago, which is don’t let the critics distract you, focus on this very important foreign trip, the first of his administration, and make it a success.”
Marlow asked Bolton if it has been established that any classified information has been leaked to the Russians “that could really do harm to America or our allies.”
“I don’t think there’s anything that I’ve seen in the press yet that would give me that kind of pause,” Bolton replied.
“I can tell you, I just got back from Singapore late last night. I’ve been gone for some time. When you’re half the world away, obviously you’re still reading the same Internet news and the same media reports that people in the United States are, but it gives you a little bit of distance. I’m just trying to figure out, what exactly was it that he supposedly said to the Russians that should be a cause for concern about imperiling intelligence sources inside ISIS and the like? I haven’t seen it yet,” he said.
“Having traveled to Singapore through the Middle East, yesterday I took my computer out of my briefcase in Dubai as I got on the plane to come back to the United States, having transferred there from Singapore. Everybody in the Middle East knows that there’s concern about laptops being used as potential bombs,” he noted. “Our Department of Homeland Security has talked to the Europeans about extending the ban on laptops in the cabins of trans-Atlantic airplanes to European capitals. So there’s no news here.”
“If that is the best that people can come up with, I’m telling you this is a non-event. That’s just the first level of argumentation about whether this is pure foam on the waves, or whether there’s a real story here. Until we have something more specific, I think what we’ve really got is a case of leaks from the executive branch that are politically motivated. I’m saying this because I’ve seen this happen again and again in the last four months. I think there are people who are just so determined to stop the Trump presidency that everything becomes a partisan tool,” Bolton said.
“I think what we really need to look at is, who did the Americans who sat in that meeting talk to afterwards? What did those people say, and where did this story actually come from? I understand that tracing leaks in the federal government is nigh unto impossible, but this is very serious. There were a limited number of people in that room. Unless you think the Washington Post and the New York Times got their information from the Russians in the room, there is an opportunity here to find out where the disloyalty is coming from,” he suggested.
“It would be something really to be worried about if the president had in fact revealed a source or method. There doesn’t seem to be an argument that he actually did. It’s that the information itself could give the Russians information that would endanger the source. And that’s a possibility. One can admit it’s a possibility,” Bolton granted.
“One might also ask, since this is said to come from the Israelis: have the Israelis ever briefed the Russians on this intelligence? And that’s not far-fetched. Israel has a very intimate relationship with Russia because of the emigration of Russian Jews to Israel, and their continuing concern about Russia’s role in the Middle East. Bibi Netanyahu has been to Moscow many times. It’s a very complex relationship,” he observed.
“None of this gets discussed in the media reporting, so looking for the grain of truth in there that might be of concern to us, I’m still trying to find it. I don’t see it,” he said.
Marlow asked why the laptop bomb threat seems to be a concern in some parts of the world, but not others – banned on certain flights, but not universally.
“One could ask that question with considerable reason. I think the initial ban on direct flights to the United States from the Middle East was because of the fear that that’s where the bombs would be produced, and most likely be brought on board,” Bolton replied.
“By the way, I haven’t heard screams of outrage from the liberal media about this,” he added. “Even though most of these airports in the Middle East, many of them, anyway, come from countries that were the subject of the immigration executive order – remember that? – that was said to be a ‘Muslim ban.’ Well, maybe this is the same sort of thing, but nobody talked about it because a lot of these reporters fly on flights from the Middle East, and maybe don’t want to get blown out of the air with laptop bombs.”
“If the threat is real one could see it being extended to other capitals, particularly from Europe, where many of the terrorists have gone over the past decade, and where we’ve seen a series of tragic terrorist attacks in Europe itself,” Bolton speculated. “It’s simply part of the continuing threat of international terrorism and our efforts to protect ourselves against it.”
“That’s something the Russians are acutely aware of. They’ve lost airplanes, Russian airplanes, to terrorist attacks. One thinks of the flight from Sharm el-Sheikh that was destroyed. They’ve obviously had Islamic terrorist attacks in Russia itself,” he pointed out.
“Again, one can argue about the appropriateness of what the president may or may not have discussed with the Russians, but this has been such an example of anonymous sources, people who were not in the meeting extrapolating from what they heard from people who were in the meeting – unless it was actually people in the meeting talking to the media. I don’t want to minimize how hard it is to find leaks from the federal government, but I think when you have a limited number of sources from which the information could come from, and they talk to a limited number of people, we ought to be able to find out at least some of who those people are,” he reiterated.
Marlow concluded the interview by asking Bolton for his thoughts on the release of Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning from prison.
“Honestly, I think this is a disgrace,” Bolton said. “I don’t understand how this could happen. I think the damage that Bradley Manning – because that’s who he was when he did it – the damage that he did to the United States and our national security is incalculable.”
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s an act of treason, and the penalty could have been a lot worse. For those who think that America has descended into an authoritarian society, just look at Chelsea out now, getting pizza and all the rest of it. I tell you, how authoritarian can you go?” he asked sarcastically.
Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.