Bolton: I Planned Coups, and Trump Wasn't Capable of One

'It takes a lot of work' and 'that's not the way Donald Trump does things'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2022 8:51 AM CDT
Bolton Casually Admits Planning Foreign Coups
In this Sept. 30, 2019, file photo, former National security adviser John Bolton gestures while speakings at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, file)

Planning a coup d'etat "takes a lot of work," according to John Bolton. He should know "as somebody who has helped plan coups d'etat" outside of the US, the former national security adviser to President Trump told CNN on Tuesday. While it's no secret that the US government has had a hand in regime changes, including the 1953 overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, "it is highly unusual for US officials to openly acknowledge their role in stoking unrest in foreign countries," per Reuters. Hence the reason the interview went viral, per the Washington Post. Bolton said he'd helped plan coups "not here, but, you know, other places" while arguing that Trump's actions around Jan. 6, 2021, didn't measure up.

He just wasn't capable of a "carefully planned coup d'etat," Bolton said. "That's not the way Donald Trump does things. It's rambling from one half, vast idea to another, one plan that falls through, and another comes up." Though he said Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results were inexcusable, he described the former president as a "disturbance in the force" rather than a leader of an "attack on our democracy." He sought only to delay the election certification, not overthrow the Constitution, Bolton said. "It's Donald Trump looking out for Donald Trump. It's a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence." But "one doesn't have to be brilliant to plan a coup," responded CNN's Jake Tapper.

"I disagree with that," replied Bolton, before revealing his own role in planning such events. Asked to elaborate, Bolton referred to the failed 2019 Venezuelan coup attempt against President Nicolás Maduro. At the time, Bolton publicly supported National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó, whom the US government still recognizes as interim president, while arguing that Maduro's re-election was illegitimate, per Reuters. "Not that we had all that much to do with it but I saw what it took for an opposition to try and overturn an illegally elected president and they failed," Bolton said. "The notion that Donald Trump was half as competent as the Venezualan opposition is laughable." (More John Bolton stories.)

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