John Bolton is now a ‘born-again Never Trumper’: Conservative expects ‘devastating insider’s indictment’
Composite image of Ambassador John Bolton and President Donald Trump (screengrabs)

The Never Trump movement could effectively veto President Donald Trump's re-election campaign, a conservative argued in The New York Times on Saturday.

Columnist Bret Stephens, who considers himself to be a Never Trump conservative, said it was a "badge of honor" to be called "scum" by President Donald Trump.

The president has publicly called for his administration to blacklist Never Trumpers.

Stephens wrote that after the 2016 election, "The NeverTrumpers scattered. Some became ex-conservatives. Others, full-on Trumpers. Still others, anti-anti-Trumpers — which only meant they were smart enough to see the president for what he is and churlish enough to be angry at those who wouldn’t join them in capitulating to it."

"Yet the NeverTrumpers never scattered entirely, and thank heavens for that. Every political system will always have a conservative faction, and every healthy democracy needs that faction to be rooted in some combination of classical liberalism and moral traditionalism. Trump’s G.O.P., whatever its political fortunes, is the opposite: a nativist party led by a libertine," he explained.

Stephens argued that conservatives could revolt -- and focused specifically on the upcoming testimony from Ambassador John Bolton.

"It’s the same sense of scandal that led to the first significant G.O.P. revolt against Trump since John McCain turned his thumb down on Obamacare repeal in 2017: The suppurating disgust even pliant conservatives like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham feel at Trump’s cavalier betrayal of the Kurds. It could motivate John Bolton (a born-again Never Trumper, along with John Kelly, Rex Tillerson, H.R. McMaster, Anthony Scaramucci and everyone else who made the mistake of working for this president) to deliver what may yet be the most devastating insider’s indictment of the president’s shameless shadow foreign policy," Stephens argued.

He noted that it would only take a handful of Republican senators to make the impeachment conviction vote a majority position of the United States Senate. While that would not meet the 2/3 threshold necessary to remove Trump from office, it could blemish his record enough to cost him re-election in 2020.

"I doubt any of this will be sufficient to get at least 20 Republican senators to vote for Trump’s removal from office. But Trump knows that the number needed to spell his moral defeat on impeachment is four. If Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and one other Republican join the Democrats to convict, the political humiliation will be thunderous. And, as my colleague David Leonhardt has convinced me, it could devastate his re-election chances," Stephens wrote.

"If the administration thinks impeachment is such a political winner, they wouldn’t be fighting it this hard," he added.

Read the full column.