Trump is now fully unleashed and deep into grievance as his acquittal on Wednesday is certain now, but the first of many pounds of flesh Trump will exact will come from John Bolton's mustache.
With Senate Republicans on track to acquit Donald Trump on Wednesday, Washington is bracing for what an unshackled Trump does next. Republicans briefed on Trump’s thinking believe that the president is out for revenge against his adversaries. “It’s payback time,” a prominent Republican told me last week. “He has an enemies list that is growing by the day,” another source said. Names that came up in my conversations with Republicans included Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Mitt Romney, and John Bolton. “Trump’s playbook is simple: go after people who crossed him during impeachment.”
Several sources said Bolton is at the top of the list. Trump’s relationship with Bolton was badly damaged by the time Bolton left the White House in September. Trump has since blamed his former national security adviser for leaking details of his forthcoming memoir that nearly derailed the impeachment trial by pressuring Republicans to call witnesses. In the book Bolton reportedly alleges Trump told him directly that Ukraine aid was tied to Ukraine announcing investigations into the Bidens (Bolton has denied being a source of the leak).
The campaign against Bolton has already begun. On January 23, the White House sent a cease and desist letter to Bolton’s lawyer demanding that Bolton’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, not release the book in March without removal of certain information. Trump intends to ratchet up the pressure, and some Republicans close to the White House fear how far Trump will take things after he’s gotten off for a second time (Trump famously made his July 25 call to Volodymyr Zelensky the day after Robert Mueller testified before Congress.) “Trump has been calling people and telling them to go after Bolton,” a source briefed on the private conversations said. The source added that Trump wants Bolton to be criminally investigated. A person familiar with Trump’s thinking said Trump believes Bolton might have mishandled classified information. According to a former official, the White House is planning to leak White House emails from Bolton that purportedly allege Bolton abused his position at the National Security Council. The official said that West Wing officials have discussed releasing emails “showing [Bolton] was doing pay-to-play,” the official said. A person close to Bolton dismissed the story. “John plays things straight,” the person said.
Indeed, Bolton is being systematically excommunicated and exiled from the GOP gravy train.
Several of President Donald Trump’s most loyal donors and supporters are telling other conservative financiers to shun former national security advisor John Bolton’s political action committee and super PAC as he prepares to publish a memoir that is reportedly critical of the administration.
The financiers are signaling to their networks not to give to his committees following a report in The New York Times about claims Bolton made in a draft of the book, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter who declined to be named in order to speak freely about Bolton.
The move by these donors to take on Bolton is the latest example of how Trump has command of those who fund the Republican Party.
“You’re on the president’s side or you’re not. It’s simple,” said Arthur Schwartz, a Republican consultant with close ties to the White House.
Trump will not settle for just Bolton's head, either. He'll go after anyone who supports him, because Trump is the GOP, and the GOP is Trump now. It's a mob operation from top to bottom, and capos who break the silence of Trumpmerta end up getting horse heads in their beds.
And yet more excerpts from Bolton's book are sure to drop over the next few weeks and months. We'll see if Trump decides to go after Bolton in a more...punitive...manner soon, but this is absolutely the kind of thing to expect from the autocratic despot from now on.
We're transitioning from Trump tossing out reporters and shouting "Lock them up!" at his hate rallies to actually having Bill Barr and the Senate GOP doing it.