Stephen Colbert took former national security adviser John Bolton to task for his naïveté in thinking he could somehow over come the chaos within the Trump administration and Trump’s inflated ego.
“You had to know that [going into the Trump administration] was a whirlpool of chaos,” said Colbert. “Even those of us looking from the outside who never got to go in could see it. Why did you go in knowing how chaotic it was?”
Replied Bolton: “I certainly heard all the stories. …. It was my belief that this could be overcome, that you could set up an orderly process. … I entered aware of the problems but optimistic that they could be overcome.”
Colbert noted that Bolton described Trump as having a soft spot for autocrats, and asked “who took advantage of that the most?”
“Every one of them,” Bolton replied. “It’s a close race to see who could see through him the clearest and tried to manipulate him – Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Erdowan of Turkey – there’s a long list of them.”
After Bolton said “I always had the feeling sitting in these meetings that they could see right through him,” Colbert replied, “But none of that could be surprising because you saw from the campaign that he was completely incurious person who had no interest in knowledge or the truth.”
Said Bolton: “Whatever we think of him, he’s not going to be a Democrat subject to the pressure — especially now — of the Left. I bought that argument in 2016.”
“No, he’s going to be subject to the pressure of Vladimir Putin!” interjected Colbert. “And Xi Jinping! He’s a person willing to sell out the interest of the American people for his own reelection. What could be worse in Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden’s philosophy than betraying your country to a hostile foreign leader?”
Replied Bolton: “What I thought in 2016 was, ‘Well, at least we have to try it out.'”
“I guess what’s exasperating is there is absolutely nothing that Donald Trump has done that is surprising to me,” Colbert later added. “My rule is: Everything you think about Donald Trump is probably true, because he’s not deep enough to get your socks wet in. He’s incredibly readable, that’s why when he ran casinos, the house lost. There’s nothing to learn about him. How did you not know beforehand that he was just callow?”
“Because I couldn’t believe it was that bad.”
“But you’re an international negotiator,” Colbert argued. “How could you be naive? You’ve dealt with the worst people in the world?
“You’ve really insulted me now by calling me naive,” said Bolton, continuing to try and explain his way out of it.
More of the interview: