By LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s third and longest-serving national security adviser, on Wednesday defended himself against criticism he should have spoken out earlier about allegations he makes in his new book, and he continued lashing out at his former boss, even amid warnings he could face prosecution.
Asked if he was concerned of that prospect, Bolton told hosts of ABC’s The View, “There are no rules in the Trump administration,” insisting the book contains no classified information, as the president and the Justice Department allege.
“It was never any part of my plan to release classified information. All I wanted to do was tell the truth about my experience in the Trump administration and that apparently was too much for him,” Bolton said.
Bolton’s appearance on The View comes one day after the book’s official release and follows a week-long legal battle with the Trump administration over its release — a battle that is likely only beginning.
Bolton previously did an exclusive interview with ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz that aired Sunday.
John Bolton tells @TheView he went through a “very arduous” “review process to ensure that there was no classified information” in his new book: “All I wanted to do was tell the truth about my experience in the Trump administration, and that apparently was too much for him.” pic.twitter.com/eix0lQoI40
— The View (@TheView) June 24, 2020
President Trump has called Bolton a “liar” and his aides have continued to try to discredit him and the allegations in his book after the Justice Department failed over the weekend to get the judge to stop its release.
Bolton, meanwhile, has repeatedly disputed that his book contains any classified information following multiple revisions over the course of a months-long review by the National Security Council.
Asked directly if he would testify under oath now that his book is out, Bolton say he doesn’t have “any fear” in doing so, before defending why he chose not to testify in the House impeachment proceedings.
“I didn’t march to the same drummer as the Democratic House leadership and I’m not required to, but my view was that if you’re going to get this information out it had to be done the right way and the way,” he said, repeating his term, “impeachment malpractice.”
“I’ve laid the evidence before the ultimate judges who are the American people,” Bolton later added. “They’re the ones that should make this decision and what better time to assess the competence and character of Donald Trump than the middle of an election.”
When co-host Joy Behar pressed Bolton with a follow up on future testimony, saying it could be a chance to redeem himself, he refused to say definitively that he would — but said it would be “interesting” if some of his old colleagues joined him.
“I don’t intend to be part of a Broadway musical, as you were talking about before,” a reference to the title of his book, The Room Where It Happened, being the same at the hit Broadway play Hamilton.
“I think these are very serious matters, I wouldn’t mind seeing a lot of other people testify under oath right beside me that’d be interesting,” he said.
Former national security adviser @AmbJohnBolton on Pres. Trump’s criticism to his new book: “I assumed they were coming.”
— The View (@TheView) June 24, 2020
Bolton emphasized to The View an allegation he makes in the book — that Trump could not adequately distinguish between his own personal interests and the interests of the country, calling his behavior “disturbing.”
“In the Trump administration, it’s the politics of reelection beyond almost anything else,” Bolton said, distancing himself from it. “The president is not a conservative Republican.”
Asked about others in the Cabinet who dismiss Bolton’s stunning allegations, such as the episode that President Trump was “pleading” with China’s president to assist his reelection at a dinner in Japan, Bolton acknowledged some may remember the event differently — but that wasn’t his point.
“It was well understood on the Chinese side of the table exactly what Donald Trump was saying,” he said.
Co-host Sunny Hostin directly tackled the question of Trump’s alleged quid pro quo with Ukraine, the subject of his impeachment trial.
“It is your understanding then that President Trump wanted information on the Bidens, and on the Clintons in return for unfreezing the aid?” Hostin said.
“Precisely,” Bolton replied.
Although Bolton has said he will not for Trump, as he did in 2016, he said he won’t for the presumptive Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden either, opting, instead, to write in a conservative name he hasn’t yet determined.
“I have to be true to my philosophical convictions as well,” Bolton said. “The good news I can give to you is that I was born and raised in Maryland. I live in Maryland today. I’m a registered voter there. Joe Biden’s going to carry Maryland no matter what I do.”
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