Former Trump adviser John Bolton appeared on The Late Show on Tuesday, where he spoke with host Stephen Colbert about working with Trump — an experience he details much further in his upcoming tell-all memoir, The Room Where It Happened.
The book is said to accuse the president of being driven by political calculations when making national security decisions. Last week, a Washington, D.C., federal judge refused to halt its imminent release.
In a clip posted from the interview, Colbert began a conversation assuming that Bolton speaks to his “fellow longterm conservative Republicans” who have served multiple administrations, about Trump. “What are they saying behind closed doors?” Colbert asked. “I mean, there are high-profile things like The Lincoln Project and Republicans Against Trump. But when the cameras are off, what’s the conservative opinion of Donald Trump?”
Bolton responded, “Well, look. I think many of them, in fairness to Trump, look at the comparison — as I did in 2016 with Hillary Clinton — look at the comparison with Joe Biden and say, whatever we think of him, he’s not going to be a Democrat subject, especially these days, to the pressure of the left. Look, I bought that argument in 2016.”
The late night host jumped in with, “He’s going to be subject to the pressure of Vladimir Putin. … He’s a person willing to sell out the interests of the American people for his own re-election.” He then asked Bolton, “What could be worse in Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden’s philosophy than betraying your country to a hostile foreign leader, sir?”
Bolton explained that he understands the point, and Colbert pressed him to answer the question. “What I thought in 2016 was, we at least have to try it out,” Bolton responded, adding that he voted for Trump. “Having experienced 17 months of working with him, I can’t in good conscience do that again,” said Bolton. “That’s why I’m not going to vote for him and I’m not going to vote for Biden.”
Colbert said that there is “absolutely nothing” Trump has done that is surprising to him, which he finds exasperating. “My rule is, everything you think about Donald Trump is probably true, because he’s not deep enough to get your socks wet in. He’s incredibly readable. That’s why when he ran casinos, the house lost. There’s nothing to learn about him. That’s why he’s essentially a boring person. How did you not know beforehand that he was just callow?”
Bolton answered that he couldn’t believe it was that bad, adding that he knows other people say they saw it earlier. Colbert continued to press the former Trump adviser. “But you’re a national negotiator, how could you be naive?” he asked. “You’ve dealt with the worst people in the world.”
Bolton replied, “You’ve really insulted me now by calling me naive. Look, I thought it was possible to work with somebody. I thought surely they would want to learn about the complexities of arms control negotiations and that sort of thing, and as I detail in the book, that turned out not to be true.”
View the clip below.