NBC News reports on former national security adviser John Bolton’s recent paid speaking engagement:

Bolton told the gathering of Morgan Stanley’s largest hedge fund clients that he was most frustrated with [President] Trump over his handling of Turkey, people who were present said. Noting the broad bipartisan support in Congress to sanction Turkey after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan purchased a Russian missile defense system, Bolton said Trump’s resistance to the move was unreasonable, four people present for his speech said.
Bolton said he believes there is a personal or business relationship dictating Trump’s position on Turkey because none of his advisers are aligned with him on the issue, the people present said.

As a legal matter, Bolton’s willingness to talk freely to paid audiences about his observations of the president and the extent to which President Trump’s personal interests have corrupted national security policy should eviscerate any basis for refusal to testify based on executive privilege or absolute immunity. If Bolton has already breached confidentiality, he cannot pull it out when convenient to deny the public the benefit of his observations. His legal position has been compromised, something House Democrats should make clear.

Aside from legalities, Bolton’s aversion to testifying, hiding behind an extended court process and unwillingness to follow the example of mid-level officials in defying the White House’s edict not to testify now can be seen for what it is: A crass financial calculation to preserve the value of his book deal and to keep in good standing in right-wing donor and political circles. The report confirms, “Like other former Trump advisers, Bolton said regardless of how much evidence is provided to Trump that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, the president refuses to take any action because he views any move against Moscow as giving credence to the notion that his election is invalid, the people present for Bolton’s remarks said.”

To be blunt, he is willing to sell his story but not to give it away for the sake of removing an oath-breaking president and protecting our constitutional system.

The irony is that Bolton has consigned himself to the dustbin of history, if he is remembered at all, as one more Republican who gave up principles to work for an unfit president who willingly would betray our national security interests. Ironically, he’s settling for a middling payday rather than the chance to strike gold. Few Republicans are going to want to read a Bolton book showing Trump in a bad light. And Democrats are not about to put money into the pockets of a man who effectively blocked us from hearing damning testimony.

However, just about everyone in America is going to want to read a story akin to John Dean’s book, “Blind Ambition” (as well as other books Dean authored), and to pay to hear a man who turned on his corrupt president to defend U.S. national security and constitutional governance. Dean is possibly the only respected official of the Watergate-implicated Nixon advisers and the only one who continues to be a respected figure in political circles. (He also had by far the most lucrative post-Watergate career both as an author and investment banker.)

For a short-term payoff, in other words, Bolton is throwing away far greater riches, a legacy worthy of praise, a personal vindication of his life’s work in national security and satisfaction in knowing he helped end (by impeachment or by election) the presidency of a man who carried Vladimir Putin’s water and put at risk a free, whole and democratic Europe — something Bolton has spent his professional life defending.

Bolton can testify honestly about all he knows or he can be one of a legion of Trump enablers. A man as savvy as Bolton should be able to figure out that the former is more satisfying and lucrative than the latter option.

Read more: