John Bolton: Putin Would Rather Face ‘Weak and Indecisive’ Clinton Than a ‘Strong Figure’ like Trump


Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, a senior fellow at the AEI Institute, joined SiriusXM host Alex Marlow on Friday’s Breitbart News Daily to talk about former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s emails, which were exposed by a hacker and include colorful negative comments about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bill Clinton.

Bolton said the hack demonstrates that privacy is “very much at risk,” and that “people don’t think about what they’re putting down in their emails; they think it will never be made public.”

“Now we’re going to see the effect of that, and I just think it’s a despicable way to proceed. It’s like theft,” Bolton said. He added:

That’s basically what it is. It’s why I’ve long thought, on the government side, that Edward Snowden was a reprehensible character, and so was Bradley Manning, and so are the people who are releasing these emails. Obviously, they’re interesting and fun to read, but they’re nobody’s business. What it says is that 99 percent of the people don’t have any protection on their email. Everybody’s vulnerable.

“I worked for Colin Powell for four years at the State Department when he was secretary of state, so I think I know him well, and nothing really surprised me,” Bolton said of the leaked emails. “I think his opinions generally are well-known. I think some of the specificity, and some of the colorful rhetoric, may have surprised some people, but nothing really was that out of the ordinary.”

“That said, I’m sure it’s mortifying to him and to the correspondents that are part of these email chains, that they’re reading about what they said on the front pages of the newspapers,” he added. “That’s just never anything they contemplated, and it really does have, I think, a chilling effect on people who are used to using email.”

Bolton said he personally does not use email for that sort of discussion, but “for most people who think they write an email, and send it off, and they’re never gonna hear about it again, this is a wake-up call.”

Turning to international news, Bolton said the cease-fire agreement in Syria between the United States and Russia is “something that demonstrates much of the futility of the Obama administration’s foreign policy”:

Even if it holds, it will simply provide for some humanitarian relief around Aleppo. I don’t expect it to hold for very long. But it’s consumed an enormous amount of Secretary of State Kerry’s time, to deal with the Russians on an issue where we are fundamentally diverging from them, and has aroused intense opposition at the Pentagon.

I just think it shows the mistakes in the overall world view of the Obama administration. It simply can’t understand how countries can have interests adverse to the United States, and why we need to protect them.

My hope for the next four months, until the Obama administration goes out of office, is that the world just goes to sleep. That’s the best we can hope for because with his time in office dwindling down, I’m very worried that Obama and Kerry are going to be trying to build their legacy in an ideological way that’s gonna cause significant damage to the United States.

Bolton said the media’s coverage of the two leading U.S. presidential candidates and their relationships with Russian President Vladimir Putin were examples of how the press tends to be “very superficial” about such matters:

Look, we have interests that converge with Russia, in the case of certain elements of Islamic terrorism. We have interests that diverge, particularly on strategic weapons, and the overall global arrangement of things. The Obama administration’s gotten it completely wrong. They won’t cooperate with Russia on the bigger picture of terrorism, and they try and cut arms-control agreements that end up entirely in Russia’s advantage.

And I think that’s Hillary’s perspective. You know, people say the Russians are hacking into the DNC, and releasing documents to benefit Donald Trump. Let me give you a slightly different spin: they know Hillary Clinton very well, and they know that her foreign policy will be essentially the same as Obama’s – that she’s weak and indecisive when it comes to major decisions. And it could well be that what really is going on here is an effort to generate sympathy for her. Don’t underestimate how complex the Russian logic can be.

And I’m not at all sure that what we see between now and November, in the next seven weeks, is going to necessarily end up benefiting Trump, as the conventional wisdom has it. I think if I were Vladimir Putin, I’d rather deal with a weak American President than a strong American President, even as we look at the campaigns, with what Trump says about Putin. Putin has to understand he’s a strong figure, and that can cause trouble for Putin down the line.

Marlow observed that the media prefer all stories have clear heroes and villains, with straightforward black-and-white narratives, while international relations actually demand a good deal of nuance. “How come we’re not sophisticated enough to maybe think that there are some grey areas, on some parts of the world?” he asked.

“I actually think the American people are a lot more sophisticated than many of their leaders – either political leaders, or the consultancy class in Washington or the media,” Bolton replied. “It’s one reason why I think there needs to be a lot more debate on national security issues, because the principal job of the president is dealing with international affairs.”

“If the country’s not safe, the domestic issues, in my view, all become secondary,” he said, adding:

And yet, maybe we’ll see it in the debates. Maybe that’s where this discussion will take place, but I think people want to assess their leaders. They want to look at them and say, “There are going to be crises in the next four years we can’t even possibly predict at the moment, and what we are really assessing is the inner strength and character of the contenders for presidency. How will they do in a crisis situation?” The differences between George Bush on September the 11th, or Al Gore. Imagine what it would have been like with Al Gore.

“The more we have the candidates compared on that basis, the better a decision, I think, the people can make,” Bolton said.

Marlow noted that Clinton’s successor as secretary of state, John Kerry, had his own pay-for-play scandal this week, with the revelation that “he was using his power in the State Department to shuffle taxpayer money to one of his daughter’s foundations.”

“I’m just stunned, but you know, I was stunned to learn of all the transactions between the Clinton Foundation and key donors, including foreign countries, and the State Department,” said Bolton. “In my experience at the State Department, if any political appointee did half of what we’ve read about here, they’d be fired, and probably prosecuted.”

“The double standard that’s been applied to the Clintons, maybe now to the Kerrys here – I’m without words to explain how frustrating it is that for normal people, at least normal Republicans, during the time I’ve been in government, what has gone on here would have been utterly unthinkable,” he declared. “If we expect this to continue, we are rapidly approaching a Third World kind of government.”

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