Even President Donald Trump recognizes that John Bolton is a war-loving hawk, Axios reported Sunday.
In a conversation that included the Irish prime minister, Trump asked Bolton, “John, is Ireland one of those countries you want to invade?”
The scene was during the annual St. Patrick’s Day visit. Typically it’s a photo-op, a handshake, and men in green ties with a shamrock sprig in their jacket pocket. Trump managed to turn it into an awkward scene for everyone.
According to the report, Trump likes to interact in this way with Bolton, and at times, that involves awkward comments in front of foreign heads of state.
“John has never seen a war he doesn’t like,” a source with direct knowledge recalled Trump saying during a recent Oval Office meeting.
Sources who have been in the Situation Room with Trump spoke on the record about meetings where Trump “teases” his top advisers. During a national security team meeting in 2018, the group was discussing a nuanced topic where the conversation turned to Bolton.
“Ok, John, let me guess, you want to nuke them all?” The source told Axios that those in the room “died laughing.”
Bolton is known for his desire to go to war with multiple Middle Eastern countries, but Iran in particular.
In the past, sources revealed that Trump was complaining privately about Bolton’s desire to get him “into a war.”
During another discussion on Chinese trade, Trump jabbed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“Steve, you’re so weak,” Trump said. “You’re so weak. You didn’t used to be this way in business. You’re so weak now.”
Yet, it’s Bolton who has recently worried about his job security, Axios reported. It’s possible that Trump fears more experienced political advisors are controlling him.
“He gets quite touchy when you bring it up,” Axios quoted a person who has criticized Bolton in conversations with Trump. “He doesn’t want anyone to believe he’s anybody’s pawn.”
“Trump thinks that Bolton is a key part of his negotiating strategy,” the source continued. “He thinks that Bolton’s bellicosity and eagerness to kill people is a bargaining chip when he’s sitting down with foreign leaders. Bolton can be the bad cop, and Trump can be the good cop. Trump believes this to his core.”