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Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton On Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

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Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton joined me this morning:

Audio:

08-23hhs-bolton

Transcript:

HH: I’m pleased to welcome back to the program former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton. Mr. Ambassador, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show, always great to have you.
JB: Thanks very much, Hugh, thanks for having me back. Glad to be with you.

HH: So first question, are you going to vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?

JB: (laughing) That, to me, is an easy choice. I am going to vote for Donald Trump. And I think that’s something that a lot of our friends around the country still need to come to grips with. You know, the Republican field for the nomination had 17 candidates, which means there are supporters out there of 16 disappointed candidates. But compared to the prospect of four years of Hillary and Bill back in the White House, or even worse, eight years, really, I hope everybody just thinks about that a little bit more.

HH: Now what do you consider to be the greatest threat of a Hillary Clinton presidency vis-à-vis a Donald Trump presidency?

JB: Well, I think that Hillary will be Barack Obama’s third term. I think that’s certainly true on national security. I think it’s true on domestic issues as well. For those who forgot Hillarycare from 1993-1994, people expert in that subject say in fact it was worse than Obamacare. So she has a readymade substitute for the failing, floundering Obamacare system. My personal worry, obviously, is on national security. There’s an urban legend that Hillary will be tougher, more interventionist, more hawkish than Obama. Honestly, other than her own press flaks’ stories over the years, there’s no evidence for that. I think she’s entirely comfortable with the Obama worldview as is John Kerry as is Joe Biden as is the entire leadership of that party. And I think in the dangerous environment we live in internationally now, we’ve already suffered grave harm in the past seven and a half years in a variety of ways to continue it again for four more, eight years, very, very damaging.

HH: John Bolton, in the last day, we have learned that S. Daniel Abraham, a major donor of the Democratic Party, wanted a meeting with Hillary Clinton. He went through the Foundation. Bono wanted a satellite link to the Space Station. He went through the Foundation. The Crown Prince of Bahrain wanted a meeting with Hillary Clinton. He went through the Foundation. Casey Wasserman wanted a visa for a crook. He went through the Foundation. And Gilbert Chagoury, a Nigerian billionaire who had to pay the Nigerian government $300 million dollars to avoid being prosecuted for a variety of evil acts, in fact went through the Foundation to connect up with Hillary Clinton’s team at the State Department. What does this record tell you?

JB: Well, it tells me that Hillary and her staff, and the Clinton Foundation, violated every pledge, every promise they made during her confirmation process to keep the activities of the Clinton Foundation from slopping over into the government. You know, just so people understand this, obviously not everybody has worked for the federal government, especially in a senior position. I can tell you, having come out of the private sector several times to serve in government, it’s almost like joining a monastery. You have to renounce every private sector connection that you have, certainly anything that has to do with finances, but a lot of other things – charitable organizations. You have to resign from pretty much everything other than your church. But when Hillary was nominated for Secretary of State, they found the regulations didn’t cover this new emerging area where you’ve got your husband, your daughter, your hangers on all involved in a ostensibly charitable or not for profit organization that’s going to continue once she was at the State Department. So hence all these pledges and promises during the confirmation process, which she routinely ignored. I’d like to know where the legal advisor was at the State Department for these four years. Were they just asleep at the switch as they were on the national security threat caused by her emails? Did the whole department just roll over and say the rules don’t apply to them? I mean, it’s just stunning. And again, from the perspective of anybody else that I’ve ever known working in the government, the separation that you go through is one reason a lot of people don’t want to go into the government. They don’t feel they can cut off their business or their charitable works or whatever. It’s too great a split unless you name is Hillary Clinton.

HH: John Bolton, the one that stands out to me is Gilbert Chagoury, the Nigerian-Lebanese billionaire that I referenced. He was a business partner of Marc Rich. Marc Rich was an international fugitive, 65 counts of indictment against him, including doing business in Iran when Americans were being held hostage there, that Chagoury is Marc Rich’s business partner. Is that a story, because it has not appeared in any major newspaper since the August 10th revelation that he used Doug Band in April of 2009 to reach the Clinton State Department?

JB: Yeah, well, you know, it’s not surprising. Fox basically broke that story, and the mass, you know, the absence of any interest by the mass media is not at all surprising. If this were a Republican, if this had been something that I was involved in, by God, the baying hounds would have been after it in a heartbeat. This whole thing, the whole transaction, the real estate transaction they were looking at in Nigeria, sends up a lot of red flags to me. And I think the question you’re asking really reinforces the point I was trying to make a minute ago. The mechanisms within the State Department to watch out for conflicts of interest are quite vigorous. And you know, you’re supposed to be as a person of integrity working in a senior State Department position very aware of the potential conflict of interest. When there’s ever any doubt in your mind, you should go to the legal advisor’s office, go to the designated agency ethics official and say look, here are the facts, what am I supposed to do. There’s no evidence that any of that happened on Chagoury, on many of these other things. And I think it really is a character question. It’s a character question about honesty. It’s a question about integrity and ethics. And it’s not enough to say well, you know, this person may have done something like that in the past. This is a consistent course of conduct for four straight years while she was Secretary of State, and not only what she was doing, but what her aides were doing.

HH: Now I want to focus, John Bolton, though, on Marc Rich. I, at the time that Marc Rich was pardoned, people were dumbfounded, flabbergasted. And people worried was there a quid pro quo made with this billionaire. I suspect that Chagoury, I suspect, I don’t have evidence, but I suspect that Chagoury is paying off that quid pro quo. Do you share that suspicion?

JB: Well, I think it’s certainly worth investigating. And as I say, if the mass media lived up to their reputation, those staunch investigative reporters, all the red flags that you need for Chagoury are out there. This is a real estate transaction in a third world country, a lot at stake for the developer to get, in this case, what they were looking at was the U.S. Consulate in Lagos, a post that I’m sure has an enormous press of business on it. To put such a prestigious office in the middle of this economic development area would have been a real coup for the developer. So a lot was riding on it, and yet there’s no evidence that the State Department looked to see what the bona fides of Chagoury might be, or whether there might be any problems. Now you know, maybe there’s more evidence out there, but come on, investigative reporters, let’s hear it.

HH: Now let me turn to Donald Trump. I have urged him to name his cabinet. I have specifically urged him to name you as his Secretary of State designate. If Donald Trump asked you to serve in that capacity as Secretary of State, would you agree to do so?

JB: Well, number one, with respect to your role, I am deeply grateful, and it’s an honor to be considered. You know, you’ve got to talk to somebody about a job like that. It’s not just enough to take a position so you can put it on your resume. You need to be sure, particularly with the State Department, you’ve got an understanding with the president. He runs foreign policy. Let’s be clear about that. But you have to understand exactly what your role would be and so on, and I think that’s a conversation any responsible person would have. But I’ve been honored, privileged, really, to serve in a number of senior positions at State and Justice over the years. And as you know, it’s an honor to serve the country. So obviously, you’d take it very, very seriously.

HH: So if he called you up and said Ambassador Bolton, come see me in Trump Tower and let’s talk about the Department of State and you possibly leading it, you would be open to that conversation?

JB: I would. I’d just say one thing about your interview with him, which of course, I listened to after I was told about your question, I think what he was saying really was responding when he said he was thinking about it, that what he was responding to your first and broader question about whether a presidential candidate should name some prospective cabinet members before the election. And he had given you an answer where he had laid out the political downsides, which are real, I think, but indicated some interest in still thinking about it. And I think that’s what he was really meaning to say.

HH: And, well, I think, I read it differently, but we can be, we can have our different interpretations. On a general basis, John Bolton, do you think he should name his cabinet or some of it? We have one minute left.

JB: Well, I think the point that he made that nobody’s really ever done it before tells you something about the political upsides and downsides, and I guess if I had to come out one way or the other, I’d say he should not for this reason. I think what he needs to do for the next two months is focus incessantly on Hillary Clinton. And God knows there’s enough to focus on, because if people understand what she would really mean as president of the United States and the dangers and the risks of putting the Clintons back in the White House, I think they would flock to Donald Trump.

HH: But if my advice is better than your advice and he called you, you’d go have that meeting. Am I right, John Bolton?

JB: I would. I would follow your guidance, Hugh.

HH: Thank you. Always want to hear that, Mr. Secretary, Mr. Ambassador. Thanks for, there was a slip. I got ahead of myself. I called him Mr. Secretary and not Mr. Ambassador. Let’s hope that’s a fulfillment. Thank you, John Bolton.

End of interview.

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