Can John Bolton still force the Senate's hand?
US National Security Advisor John Bolton, pictured in Jerusalem in August 2018, described the International Criminal Court as 'outright dangerous'. (POOL/AFP/File / ABIR SULTAN)

This week, President Donald Trump’s sycophants and loyalists in the right-wing media have been going after former National Security Adviser John Bolton with a vengeance. They are furious over a bombshell New York Times report that Bolton, in his forthcoming book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” alleges that Trump made an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, a condition of military aid to Ukraine. But one conservative who isn’t bashing Bolton this week is Washington Post opinion writer Jennifer Rubin, who asserts in a January 30 column that Bolton is badly needed to help rein in Trump.


The Never Trump conservative sets up her column as a “Dear John Bolton” letter addressing the former national security adviser. And she tells Bolton why his insights are so important at this point.

“The president asserts that he is king, and the spineless Republicans — who smear and insult you and mouth Russian propaganda  —  are too cowardly to oppose him,” Rubin tells Bolton. “Meanwhile, your First Amendment rights to publish your account are being trampled on by a vague, overly broad and baseless assertion that your manuscript contain ‘top secret’ materials.”

Rubin goes on to describe some “options” that Bolton has.

“First, you could hold a news conference Thursday or agree to an interview, perhaps with Chris Wallace so that his Fox News audience would have a front-row seat,” Rubin advises. And she notes, “You can explain without revealing anything remotely classified that Trump tied aid to opening bogus investigations into the Bidens; that Trump never pursued burden-sharing or anti-corruption efforts more generally before the scandal broke; and that Trump knew that the conspiracy theories justifying such bogus investigations were being advanced by Russian-connected stooges. Let the public know; do not allow the Senate to ignore damning evidence.”

Second, Rubin writes, Bolton could contact the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee and “ask to appear immediately in an open hearing. You can then, under oath, lay out what you know.”

A third option, according to Rubin: Bolton “can do nothing, meekly accepting prior restraint on your free speech and remaining silent so that the Senate can escape confronting what it knows would be damning evidence of the president’s impeachable conduct. You can watch the party to which you belonged your entire adult life incinerate the constitutional system of checks and balances, separation of powers and limited government. You can become a silent accomplice in this assault on democracy.”

But that isn’t the option Rubin recommends.

The conservative journalist wraps up her column by stressing that although Bolton is now hated by so many Trump devotees, he can have the satisfaction of doing the right thing by speaking out.

“Whatever sense of disappointment and alienation you must feel from your former friends and colleagues,” Rubin tells Bolton, “I can assure you it is temporary. You can now relish in the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to display true courage and patriotism, to go down in history with others who interposed themselves between wanna-be dictators and absolute power. But first, you have to do the right thing.”