Late last week, President Trump announced that he was replacing Army Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster as National Security Adviser with Ambassador John Bolton. It wasn’t long before Bolton’s army of enemies came after him. He was attacked for having supported the Iraq War (something I think was the correct call by President Bush but terribly executed and any gains were forever frittered away under Obama) and opposed the Iran nuclear deal. But one of the most unusual attacks was this:
Can John Bolton even get a security clearance? Ties to Russian allies of Vladimir Putin?https://t.co/7eri6tYN9A
— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) March 25, 2018
When Bolton was at State, there were questions about whether he was "distorting" intelligence "to conform to—and confirm—his views." Read this story about why he didn't get Senate confirmation 13 yrs ago. Will this guy really get full security clearance?https://t.co/TibThLZJaq
— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) March 26, 2018
Tim Kaine was on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday and repeated the claim.
KAINE: John Bolton, when he was nominated to be ambassador to the U.N. by a Republican president, with a Republican-controlled Senate, he couldn’t get confirmed because of real concerns about both his rhetoric, but also about his track record of cooking intelligence to make it look other than it really was.
Since then, he…
KEILAR: But you questioned whether he would be able to get a clearance.
KAINE: I — I wonder about that.
He — a report surfaced right after he was named about a speech that he gave in Russia in 2013, at the request of a Russian oligarch who’s very close to Vladimir Putin.
These kinds of contacts with foreign governments, especially, in the words of General Dunford, who’s the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Russia is the chief nation-state adversary of the United States, these kinds of contacts raise real questions in my mind about whether he could get a full security clearance or not.
We’ve already lost one national security adviser, Michael Flynn, because he was lying about contacts with foreign governments and had to be let go.
I think — even though the Senate doesn’t get a vote to confirm the national security adviser, I have many, many questions, not only about John Bolton’s philosophy, but about these contacts with Russia and potentially other governments.
In the whole interview, Kaine manages to hold two diametrically opposed points of view on Bolton. He’s a warmonger who will monger us right into a war with Russia (I’m not sure why Kaine, or the Democrats, or the Never Trump people would find this to be a bad idea as they’ve done everything possible to make dealing with Russia in a non-confrontational manner an impossibility). And he’s a Russian stooge.
The contact Bolton had with Russia was rather tangential:
Incoming White House national security adviser John Bolton recorded a video used by the Russian gun rights group The Right to Bear Arms in 2013 to encourage the Russian government to loosen gun laws.
The episode, which has not been previously reported, illustrates the common cause that Russian and American gun rights groups were forming in the years leading up to the 2016 election through former National Rifle Association President David Keene. Keene appointed Bolton to the NRA’s international affairs subcommittee in 2011.
Russian politician Alexander Torshin helped establish The Right to Bear Arms and cultivate ties with American gun rights groups including the NRA. As a Putin ally, Torshin served as the deputy speaker of Russia’s parliament for more than a decade and also spent time on Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee, a state body that includes the director of Russia’s internal security service.
The Bolton video appears to be another plank in a bridge built by Russia to conservative political organizations inside the United States. It’s unclear why Russian leaders wanted to curry favor with the NRA, but Torshin and Keene appeared to have developed close ties in the years prior to the 2016 election.
This is madness.
But the left has accomplished two major things with the weaponizing of the unsubstantiated Trump dossier, a document developed by a former British spy with, it seems, the assistance of Russian intelligence. First, they have managed to make any contact with Russia toxic for any Republican or conservative individual or group. This is stupid and dangerous. And secondly, they’ve convinced a large segment of the neo-John-Birch-Society right that makes up the Never Trump movement to go along with the fantasy of Russians hiding behind the dust-bunnies under their beds. The fact that there are people who want others to believe they are conservatives purveying the story that the NRA has substantial Russian funding shows both the success of the progressive agenda and the intellectual bankruptcy of the people buying into it. You can bet those same folks will shortly be parroting this talking point to attack John Bolton.