John Bolton's background has led to people on both the right and left questioning his vetting by the Trump transition team for a role as the second-in-command at the State Department.
For one thing, he has maybe the most undiplomatic history of any diplomat you will ever see. He seemed to spend most of his time when he was Ambassador to the United Nations under the Bush administration talking about how much he disliked the U.N. And his career since leaving government is highlighted by op/ed pieces with headlines like "To Stop Iran's Bomb, Bomb Iran."
But if recent events are any indication, the more of Bolton's awfulness is uncovered, the more attractive he becomes to Trump. Maybe that's why he decided to make the plunge into wild conspiracy-mongering on Fox News this Sunday.
In an interview with the network's Eric Shawn, Bolton suggested that reports that Russia interfered in the election to boost the campaign of Donald Trump could be a conspiracy by the Obama administration to sabotage Trump.
“It is not at all clear to me, just viewing this from the outside, that this hacking into the DNC and the RNC was not a false flag operation," Bolton said.
If you're not familiar with the term "false flag," it's an archaic naval term referring to when a naval vessel might fly the flag of a different country to confuse the enemy as to which side they were on. Google News searches show that prior to this year, the term doesn't show up much except on conspiracy sites like Infowars or in stories about literal false flags. Welcome to 2016.
"We just don’t know," Bolton continued. "But I believe that intelligence has been politicized in the Obama administration to a very significant degree.”
The audacity of someone who was part of the George W. Bush administration claiming that intelligence under Obama has been politicized is pretty jarring. Just a reminder, in case you were asleep from 2000 to 2008 or are under the age of 10, that the Bush administration is accused of:
- Repeatedly claiming that Saddam Hussein was in possession of weapons of mass destruction, despite a complete lack of evidence.
- Delivering an address to the United Nations on Iraq containing false information.
- Leaking the identity of a CIA agent whose husband, a U.S. ambassador, spoke out against the Iraq War.
And we haven't even gotten to Bolton's personal involvement. A 2005 Washington Post report cited several state department staffers as saying Bolton prevented information from reaching higher levels if it was politically inconvenient.
Those allegations came out again during Bolton's confirmation hearing, when Carl Ford, the former head of the state department's intelligence bureau, described Bolton as "a quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy." He accused Bolton of trying to get a CIA analyst fired for disagreeing with him on whether or not Cuba had a biological weapons program.
"For me, the great danger is politicization," Ford said. "The analysts in INR were very negatively affected by this incident. They were scared."
Things sure are going to be great at the State Department.