Former US National Security Advisor John Bolton took credit for attempting to oust foreign leaders, claiming he played a role in regime change efforts abroad while suggesting ex-President Donald Trump lacked the foresight to carry out his own putsch at home.
Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper following Tuesday’s congressional hearing into the January 6 Capitol riot, Bolton insisted the former commander in chief could not have pulled off a “carefully planned coup d’etat,”as “that’s not the way Donald Trump does things.”
When the TV host argued that “one doesn’t have to be brilliant to attempt a coup,”Bolton held his ground, saying he had personally taken part in the ouster of foreign governments and that such projects require significant planning.
“I disagree with that. As someone who has helped plan coup d’etats – not here but, you know, other places – it takes a lot of work,” the former official went on. “And that’s not what [Trump] did. It was just stumbling around from one idea to another.”
When Tapper asked for specifics, Bolton refused to elaborate, but did go on to mention Venezuela, where US-backed opposition figures attempted to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro in 2019 but failed to inspire mass defections from the security forces.
The efforts in Venezuela “turned out not to be successful,” he said, adding, “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.”
Then working as Trump’s national security advisor, Bolton publicly supported opposition leader Juan Guaido during the coup attempt, even addressing social media posts to senior Venezuelan officials, urging them to join the effort. In comments to reporters at the time, however, he argued “this is clearly not a coup,” maintaining Guaido was Venezuela’s “legitimate” leader.
While the CNN anchor pressed Bolton further on his coup comments, saying “I feel like there’s other stuff you’re not telling me,” he replied, “I’m sure there is,” and offered no other details.
Bolton has served in top positions for several administrations since the 1980s, working as former President Ronald Reagan’s assistant attorney general, a State Department official under former President George H. W. Bush, and later as UN ambassador for former President George W. Bush. His tenure in the Trump administration was cut short due to disagreements with the commander in chief, ultimately resigning amid a heated public dispute with his former boss.