In a 2010 interview with Andrew Napolitano on Fox Business Channel, former White House National Security Adviser John Bolton stated that he would have no problem lying to the public if he thought it was necessary to protect national security.
Bolton, who has written a book for Simon & Shuster based on his time working on national security policy for President Donald Trump that is scheduled to be released in March of 2020, also said during the 2010 interview that government secrecy and protection of classified material was necessary to protect the public.
Bolton become a central character in Senate impeachment proceedings against Trump after information about his forthcoming book was leaked to the New York Times just days after Bolton’s lawyer was informed by the National Security Council that his book contained top secret classified information. That book coincidentally was made available for pre-sale on Amazon the same day the New York Times wrote about its leaked contents.
“A diplomat is a statesman sent out to lie for his country,” the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said before touting his own ability to “spin” information without technically lying.
Bolton was specifically invited on to discuss sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables and documents that had been obtained and released at the time by Wikileaks, an act which Bolton characterized as “an attack on the United States.”
“Is it an attack on the United States for us to know that our ally, Saudi Arabia, is actually financing Al Qaeda?” Napolitano asked. “Isn’t that something we would want to know?”
“I want to make the case for secrecy in government when it comes to the conduct of national security affairs and possibly for deception where it’s appropriate,” Bolton responded. He then approvingly quoted Winston Churchill’s assertion that “truth is so important it should be surrounded by a bodyguard of lies.”
“Do you really believe that?” Napolitano responded. “You would lie in order to preserve the truth?”
“Absolutely,” Bolton said. “If I had to say something I knew was false to protect American national security, I would do it.”
“Why do people in the government think that the rules of civil society or the laws don’t apply to them?” Napolitano countered.
“Because they are not dealing in the civil society we live in under the Constitution,” Bolton said. “They are dealing in an anarchic environment internationally where different rules apply.”
“But you took an oath to uphold the Constitution, and the Constitution mandates certain openness and certain fairness,” Napolitano countered. “You’re willing to do away with that in order to achieve a temporary military goal?”
“The Constitution is not a suicide pact,” Bolton responded, quoting former Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson.
In his forthcoming book, Bolton allegedly makes several claims about private conversations with Trump and the president’s top national security officials regarding Rudy Giuliani, according to the New York Times. Attorney General William Barr and White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, both of whom were reportedly singled out by Bolton as parties to these conversations, deny Bolton’s alleged claims.
“John Bolton never informed Mick Mulvaney of any concerns surrounding Bolton’s purported August conversation with the President,” an attorney for Mulvaney said. “Nor did Mr. Mulvaney ever have a conversation with the President or anyone else indicating that Ukrainian military aid was withheld in exchange for a Ukrainian investigation of Burisma, the Bidens, or the 2016 election.”
“There was no discussion of ‘personal favors’ or ‘undue influence’ on investigations, nor did Attorney General Barr state that the President’s conversations with foreign leaders was improper,” Department of Justice spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said. “If this is truly what Mr. Bolton has written, then it seems he is attributing to Attorney General Barr his own current views–views with which Attorney General Barr does not agree.”
Trump and Bolton, who was fired by the president last September, famously clashed on foreign policy and national security matters, as Bolton has a reputation for recommending military intervention across the globe.
“[F]rankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning.