John Bolton has more in common with his Trump cronies than just his history at Fox News: He also has a history of abusive behavior. This is at least partly what prevented his confirmation, by a Republican-controlled Senate, as U.N. ambassador during the George W. Bush administration.
Vox’s excellent portrait of Bolton reveals the long pattern of abusive behavior that came to light during his confirmation hearing (my emphases added):
Multiple people who had worked with Bolton came out of the woodwork to speak to these issues. Perhaps the most harrowing such account came in an open letter written by a former federal contractor named Melody Townsel, recalling a time that she raised issues surrounding the use of funds in a contract Bolton was working on. He didn’t take it well:
Mr. Bolton proceeded to chase me through the halls of a Russian hotel — throwing things at me, shoving threatening letters under my door and, generally, behaving like a madman. For nearly two weeks, while I awaited fresh direction from my company and from US AID, John Bolton hounded me in such an appalling way that I eventually retreated to my hotel room and stayed there. Mr. Bolton, of course, then routinely visited me there to pound on the door and shout threats.
All in all, according to then-Sen. Joe Biden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time, testimony from at least five people confirmed multiple instances of Bolton behaving abusively toward subordinates and retaliating against intelligence professionals who challenged his policy positions. For these reasons, Bolton could not be confirmed by the Senate — which was, at the time, controlled by Republicans.
Such retaliatory behavior is not just dangerous and unconscionable on the face of it but as Vox also noted, it’s a danger to national security interests. If subordinates or colleagues are afraid to contradict Bolton (who still believes the Iraq war was a good idea), it stifles the sharing of important intelligence or other information.
Bolton joins a long line of abusers Donald Trump seems to favor as associates and/or friends: Rob Porter, Andrew Puzder, Corey Lewandowski, Sebastian Gorka (a former Trump adviser), Bill O’Reilly and Michael Cohen spring to mind. Trump also didn’t let accusations of pedophilia stop him for campaigning for Roy Moore. Recently, Eric Bolling has advised the White House and has signaled an interest in working for Trump.
Almost as significant is that half of the members of that list are or were affiliated with Fox News. Gorka is currently a “national security strategist” on Fox. Lewandowski is a frequent guest. Bill O’Reilly, of course, was a prime time host until he was booted out over multiple allegations of sexual harassment and abuse. Bolling was also a Fox host until allegations of sexual harassment arose.
Bolton’s policy positions, alone, make him a horrifying choice for national security adviser. And much has been said of Trump’s predilection for TV pundits for his “reality show” presidency. But it's also disturbing that the supporting cast includes so many abusers.
(Bolton image via screen grab)
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