“That’s not the way Donald Trump does things,” Bolton told host Jake Tapper. “It’s rambling from one half, vast idea to another; one plan that falls through and another comes up — that’s what he was doing.”
He added that the former president’s actions were “not an attack on our democracy.”
“It’s Donald Trump looking out for Donald Trump,” Bolton said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.”
“As somebody who has helped plan coups d’etat — not here, but, you know, other places — it takes a lot of work, and that’s not what [Trump] did,” Bolton added. “It was just stumbling around from one idea to another. Ultimately, he did unleash the rioters at the Capitol; as to that, there’s no doubt, but not to overthrow the Constitution — to buy more time to throw the matter back to the states to try and redo the issue.”
Tapper further questioned Bolton on his “expertise having planned coups” and whether those were “successful coups.”
In response, Bolton referenced an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in 2019 — which he wrote about in his 2020 memoir — but said that he would not get “into the specifics.”
“Not that we had all that much to do with it,” Bolton said, “but I saw what it took for an opposition to try and overturn an illegally elected president, and they failed.”
Bolton’s remarks appear to differ from what he said in the past regarding the situation in Venezuela. According to The Washington Post, he said in 2019, “This is clearly not a coup.”
On The Lead, Bolton said, “The notion that Donald Trump was half as competent as the Venezuelan opposition is laughable.”
Tapper interjected, “I feel like there is other stuff you’re not telling me about,” to which Bolton replied: “I think — I’m sure there is.”
Bolton served as Trump’s National Security Advisor during his presidential term from April 2018 to September 2019.
In March, Bolton spoke out about the notion that the former president was tough on Vladimir Putin and prevented an earlier attack on Ukraine by Russia through measures taken during his administration.
“The fact is that he barely knew where Ukraine was,” Bolton said of Trump during an interview with conservative news outlet Newsmax at the time.
“It’s just not accurate to say that Trump’s behavior somehow deterred the Russians,” Bolton continued. “I think the evidence is that Russia didn’t feel their military was ready.”
Asked for a response to the former national security advisor’s remarks about the president and Russia, Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich told PEOPLE at the time, “John Bolton was fired because he believes anything less than war is not enough. President Trump ensured peace during his administration and ended wars, making Bolton irrelevant.”