John Bolton, the former White House national security adviser for the Trump administration, has claimed that he previously helped plan attempted coups of foreign leaders.
Bolton made the comment in an interview with CNN’s “The Lead” on Tuesday, shortly after the Jan. 6 House Select Committee had wrapped up its seventh congressional hearing, regarding the breach of the U.S. Capitol.
Panel lawmakers focused much of Tuesday’s hearing on evidence around testimony provided by former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and alleged ties between former President Trump and “extremist” right-wing groups.
The committee claims that Trump intentionally tried to mount an insurrection against the United States government in a last-ditch effort to remain in power after losing the 2020 election to Joe Biden.
Speaking to CNN, Bolton insisted that Trump could not have pulled off a “carefully planned coup d’etat aimed at the Constitution” because “that’s not the way Donald Trump does things.”
“It’s not an attack on our democracy,” Bolton said. “It’s Donald Trump looking out for Donald Trump. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.”
CNN host Jake Tapper responded, “I don’t know that I agree with you, to be fair, with all due respect” adding that “one doesn’t have to be brilliant to attempt a coup.”
However, Bolton said he disagreed with this statement before referencing his own alleged experience helping to plan a coup.
Helped Plan Coups
“As somebody who has helped plan coups d’etat—not here but, you know, [in] other places—it takes a lot of work. And that’s not what he [Trump] did,” Bolton continued. “It was just stumbling around from one idea to another. Ultimately, he did unleash the rioters at the Capitol. As to that, there is no doubt. But not to overthrow the Constitution to buy more time to throw the matter back to the states to try to redo the issue.”
“And if you don’t believe that, then you’re going to overreact, and I think that’s a real risk for the committee, which has done a lot of good work mostly when the witnesses are testifying, not when the members are opining,” he added. “It is invariably the case when you go too far trying to prove your case, you undermine it.”
When pressed to provide further details regarding his alleged help with coups, Bolton declined to provide more information, stating that he was “not going to get into the specifics” before going on to mention Venezuela.
Under the 2020 Operation Gideon, Venezuelan dissidents and an American private military company, Silvercorp USA, attempted, unsuccessfully, to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
At the time, Maduro blamed the attacks on the Trump administration and neighboring Colombia, both of which denied involvement.
A year prior to the incident, Bolton, as national security adviser, had aired his public support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido’s call for the military to back his effort to oust Maduro, stating that the socialist leader’s reelection was illegitimate.
Ultimately Maduro remained in power.
“It turned out not to be successful,” Bolton said. “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.”
“The notion that Donald Trump was half as confident as the Venezuelan opposition is laughable,” he added, to which Tapper responded, “I feel like there’s other stuff you’re not telling me.”
“I’m sure there is,” Bolton replied while again declining to give further details.
Reuters contributed to this report.