National News

John Bolton breaks silence, talks national security challenges at Duke

Posted February 17, 2020 12:05 p.m. EST
Updated February 18, 2020 6:48 a.m. EST

— Breaking his silence, former national security advisor John Bolton visited Duke University on Monday to speak about national security challenges.

He spoke to a sold-out crowd of 1,200 people in his first appearance since the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump finished.

He was interviewed by Peter Feaver, director of the Duke Program in American Grand Strategy and a political science professor.

Bolton criticized Trump’s approach on foreign policy, specifically with North Korea, saying it was “doomed to fail.”

Regarding mounting tensions with Iran, Bolton said, “I think it’s failing because it doesn’t live up to its bumper-sticker slogan of ‘maximum pressure.’ I don’t think we’re applying maximum pressure.”

Duke senior Elliott Davis said he was able to learn a lot from the event.

“I thought he gave a pretty straight-forward world view of America’s role in the world and leaders that have views that are incompatible with the United States,” Davis said.

As Bolton spoke, protesters gathered outside. Some accuse him of opposing Muslims.

Bolton was Trump's fourth national security advisor, serving from March 2018 to September 2019. He also worked in the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

In working with the White House, Bolton was a member of administrations that pursued wars in Afghanistan and Iraq after 9/11.

“It’s not just about hate speech,” said Aman Aberra, a Duke graduate student. “It’s about actual blood on Bolton’s hands, actual decisions he made while in positions of power.

Bolton said those claims are a “hateful charge to make.”

Since his ouster, Bolton has not given any interviews or spoken publicly about a book he is writing, to be titled, "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir."

But The New York Times has reported extensively based on an early version of the manuscript that Bolton wrote about his differences of opinion with the president, his concerns about the president's close relationship with Rudy Giuliani and his willingness to testify in the president's impeachment trial.

Bolton associates told The Times, "He believes that he has relevant insight to present before senators vote on whether to remove Trump. He is also concerned that if his account of Trump’s Ukraine dealings comes out after the trial, he will be accused of withholding potentially incriminating material in order to increase his book sales."

The Senate voted against hearing from Bolton or any other witnesses in the course of voting, along party lines, to acquit Trump on the two articles of impeachment.

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