John Bolton, former national security adviser to Donald J. Trump and longtime foreign policy hawk, said Monday he was prepared to jump into the 2024 presidential contest if he did not see enough pushback within the Republican Party to Trump’s recent call to scrap the U.S. Constitution.
Speaking on NBC’s “Meet The Press Now,” Bolton said he was worried by Trump’s post on his social media platform over the weekend in which the losing candidate in the 2020 election said he should be reinstalled as president or get a do-over election because he felt there was fraud.
“A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” Trump posted. He reposted the statement later in the day.
The U.S. Constitution contains no provisions for reinstalling a losing presidential incumbent in the White House or allowing a do-over of the quadrennial general election, and experts have said there was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
“I think to be a presidential candidate, you can’t simply say, ‘I support the Constitution.’ You have to say, ‘I would oppose people who would undercut it,’” Bolton told NBC News’ Kristen Welker.
He then approvingly invoked the since-disbanded House Un-American Activities Committee, seen by many historians as the epicenter of anti-Communist Red Scare paranoia following World War II and a precursor to Sen. Joe McCarthy’s demagogic rise in the early 1950s.
“You know, we used to have a thing in the House of Representatives called the House Un-American Activities Committee. I think when you challenge the Constitution itself the way Trump has done, that is un-American.”
Bolton served under Trump as his national security adviser for a little over a year, from spring 2018 to fall 2019. But his tenure may best be known for how it intersected with the first effort to impeach and remove Trump from office, stemming from Trump’s attempt to withhold aid from Ukraine to pressure the country’s president to announce an investigation of Joe Biden.
Bolton was asked to testify at the impeachment trial about what he knew about the plan but declined to, citing an ongoing dispute between him and the National Security Council over whether his then-unpublished memoir contained classified information. Critics saw his move as a dodge, and when the book came out, it included Bolton saying he and other top officials had tried to convince Trump several times to release the aid but that Trump had refused.
Bolton’s decision not to testify was heavily criticized as a cash grab to boost sales of his book.
Bolton was also a key figure in the George W. Bush administration’s decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 while he was serving as an undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. He also flirted with a presidential run in 2012 but ultimately passed on it.
“I actually think most Republican elected officials in Washington disagree with Trump on this, but they’re intimidated. This is the time where there’s strength in numbers. The more people who tell the truth, the easier it is for everybody else,” he told Welker on Monday.
Bolton said he’d look for “Shermanesque” statements of opposition to Trump’s stance from potential 2024 GOP nominees before making up his mind on whether to run.
“If I don’t see that, then I’m going to seriously consider getting in,” he said. “This is serious business.”