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Trump ‘unfit for office,’ lacks ‘competence,’ Bolton says in TV interview

The Justice Department filed a suit June 16 seeking to block the release of a book by former White House national security adviser John Bolton. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Former national security adviser John Bolton says in a television interview that President Trump is “unfit for office” and lacks the “competence to carry out the job.”

Bolton made the comments to ABC News as the former administration insider sought to promote a new book that Trump claimed in a tweet Thursday is “a compilation of lies and made up stories, all intended to make me look bad.” Excerpts of the Bolton interview aired Thursday.

“I don’t think he’s fit for office. I don’t think he has the competence to carry out the job,” Bolton said during the ABC interview, which is scheduled to air in full Sunday. “There really isn’t any guiding principle that I was able to discern other than what’s good for Donald Trump’s reelection. I think he was so focused on the reelection that longer-term considerations fell by the wayside.”

Trump asked China’s Xi to help him win reelection, according to Bolton book

The Washington Post reported extensively Wednesday on Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” after obtaining an advance copy. The 592-page memoir about Bolton’s 17 months in the White House portrays Trump as an “erratic” and “stunningly uninformed” commander in chief and lays out a long series of jarring and troubling encounters between the president, his top advisers and foreign leaders.

The Justice Department on Wednesday night sought an emergency order from a judge to block the book’s publication, and Trump has sought in interviews and on social media to undermine the credibility of his former national security adviser.

In a tweet early Thursday, Trump referred to “Wacko John Bolton” and said his book is “made up of lies & fake stories.”

“Said all good about me, in print, until the day I fired him,” Trump wrote. “A disgruntled boring fool who only wanted to go to war. Never had a clue, was ostracized & happily dumped. What a dope!”

In tweets later Thursday morning, Trump said Bolton’s aim was to make him look bad and called the book “pure fiction.”

“Just trying to get even for firing him like the sick puppy he is!” Trump said, lamenting in another tweet that he did not fire Bolton earlier in his tenure after he made controversial comments about the future of North Korea.

In an interview Wednesday night on Fox News, Trump similarly dismissed Bolton, who was ousted from his job in September 2019, as a “washed-up guy.” (Trump says he fired Bolton; Bolton says he quit.)

Trump said he appointed Bolton as his national security adviser because the job did not require confirmation by the Senate, like many other top administration jobs.

“He couldn’t get Senate-confirmed. So I gave him a non-Senate-confirmed position,” Trump said. “I could just put him there, see how we worked. And I wasn’t very enamored.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany echoed her boss during a Thursday morning television appearance after being shown the Bolton clip from his ABC interview.

“My reaction is that John Bolton has discredited himself,” McEnany said on Fox News, citing past instances when Bolton praised Trump’s leadership. “John Bolton’s bunk is debunked by none other than John Bolton.”

She added that Bolton has taken the title of “most disliked man in America” from James B. Comey, the former FBI director fired by Trump in 2017.

The following year, as Comey promoted a book that portrayed Trump in an unflattering light, the president called him a “weak and untruthful slimeball.”

Josh Dawsey contributed to this report.