For the past fourteen months, as Donald Trump’s presidency has further failed and his scandals have grown worse, some among the Resistance have consistently predicted that Trump would start a war as a distraction at any moment. When Trump hired enthusiastic warmonger John Bolton last week, many assumed it was in preparation for war. Now we’re learning that the timing of Bolton’s hiring, and the choice of Bolton in particular, is based on something very different.
Trump announced the Bolton hire just six days after Facebook announced that it had caught the Trump campaign’s voter data firm Cambridge Analytica stealing user data from fifty million Facebook users during the election. Those two storylines didn’t seem to be related at the time. But it’s since been revealed that Cambridge Analytica is tied to election bribery and blackmail and secret lied-about meetings with Russia (link), and that Bolton has long been knee-deep in Cambridge Analytica money (link). Now it all makes sense: Trump brought on Bolton, perhaps at the direction of Cambridge Analytica financial backers the Mercers, as a way of trying to keep Bolton on their side as criminal investigators target the firm.
In hindsight, we probably should have seen this coming when Trump hired Bolton. His other recent moves have involved promoting his U.S. intel community fixer Mike Pompeo to Secretary of State, and hiring his campaign’s highly suspicious data guy Brad Parscale to run his (supposed) 2020 reelection campaign. It’s clear that Trump is bringing his allies and his alleged co-conspirators in the Trump-Russia scandal, or at least the ones who haven’t yet cut plea deals against him, closer into the fold.
There is still no looking past John Bolton’s status as a warmonger who has long stated the belief that North Korea and Iran should be invaded. This man would be a disturbing and inappropriate choice for National Security Adviser even if he weren’t tied to the Trump-Russia scandal. But the reality is this: Trump has been in office for more than a year, and while he’s long talked tough about North Korea and Iran, he hasn’t made a single major military move of any kind.
Donald Trump has tried to play it safe with comparatively small military action like Yemen, Syria and Niger, and even that has largely blown up in his face. Trump also has virtually no political muscle remaining as his presidency falls apart, and while the GOP has allowed his deranged personal antics and criminal scandals to go unchecked, there is no reason to expect the party would allow him to start a war which would be hung around the GOP’s neck in the November elections. Even with the John Bolton hiring, there is no reason to expect Trump is looking to start a war. There is, however, every reason to expect that Bolton was hired because the Cambridge Analytica scandal is exploding.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report