Home U.S. News The Retribution Presidency

The Retribution Presidency

The Retribution Presidency

John Bolton has a warning about what a second Donald Trump presidency might look like.

“Trump really cares only about retribution for himself, and it will consume much of a second term,” Bolton, who served as Trump’s national security adviser, writes in a new edition of his White House memoir, “The Room Where It Happened.”

“I am your warrior. I am your justice, and for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution,” Trump told supporters last year. He promised to appoint a special prosecutor if he’s re-elected to “go after” President Biden and his family.

(Trump’s advisers are concerned his public comments about retribution will alienate swing voters. He tried to play down his interest in payback in January.)

A vindictive Trump second term is now a frequent point of discussion. But Bolton already got a close-up look at Trump’s nature — and how his anger can boil over. He spent 17 months in the administration and left in 2019.

The new edition of Bolton’s book focuses on several examples, especially the case of Ellen Knight, a National Security Council official who cleared Bolton’s original edition for publication and was then dismissed from the N.S.C.

Knight told a federal judge that senior White House lawyers pressured her to falsely claim that Bolton’s book contained classified information. She was reinstated under President Biden.

“Knight was subjected to a Star Chamber process to adhere to the party line — that I had been acting in bad faith and had not adhered to the process,” Bolton wrote.

Others also suffered Trump’s wrath, Bolton writes, including Vice President Mike Pence, who refused to do what Trump demanded and find a way to prevent President Biden’s Electoral College victory from being certified.

“He liked humiliating people from the get-go,” Bolton said in an interview. “I don’t think I have seen, from when I was in the White House to any period since when I have left, I don’t think there’s any change in his personality.”

“Observing from a distance, I do think he focuses more on this retribution question,” he added.

Asked to comment about Bolton’s remarks, Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, said in an email: “For someone who professes to have such great disdain for President Trump, ‘Book Deal Bolton’ sure has found a way to grift off the relationship.”

Bolton’s book, originally released while Trump was running for re-election in 2020, is a detailed and intimate account of a president with no prior governing experience and little to no interest in the norms of the office.

In the new section, Bolton, a Republican who is hawkish on military power and who was former President George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations, bluntly writes that Trump is “unfit to be president” and is driven only by self-interest.

“What I say regularly is he has no philosophy,” Bolton said in the interview. “He sees everything through the prism of whether it benefits himself.”

Senate Democrats released a $118.3 billion emergency national security bill on Sunday that ties a fresh infusion of aid to Ukraine to measures clamping down on migration across the United States-Mexico border.

The fate of bill, which has the backing of President Biden and Senate leaders in both parties, will turn on whether enough Republicans embrace its border security provisions — a long shot given the opposition of former President Donald Trump. House leaders quickly denounced it on Sunday night as a nonstarter that does not crack down enough on migration.

The legislation will need bipartisan support to advance this week in the Senate, where it must draw at least 60 votes to advance in a test vote set for Wednesday.

Here’s a look at what’s in the 370-page bill:

Money for Ukraine, Israel, Palestinians and the border.

The bill includes $60.1 billion in military assistance for Ukraine, $14.1 billion in security assistance for Israel and $10 billion in humanitarian aid for civilians of global crises — including Palestinians and Ukrainians.

It also would provide about $20 billion in border investments: hiring new asylum and border patrol officials, expanding the capacity of detention facilities and increasing screenings for fentanyl and other illicit drugs.

A border fail-safe.

The bill would create a trigger that would effectively close the border to migrants trying to cross into the United States without authorization. It would be tripped if the average number of migrants encountered by border officials exceeded 5,000 over the course of a week or 8,500 on any given day.

The bill also would give the president power to close the border if migrant encounters reach an average of 4,000 per day over a week. Many Republicans have argued those thresholds are too high.

No caps on parole and help for Afghan refugees.

Republicans sought to place limits on the president’s power to parole migrants into the country, allowing them to live and work on a temporary basis. Democrats resisted such changes, and they are not included in the legislation, which would keep intact programs that have been used to let Cubans, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans, Haitians, Ukrainians and Afghans into the United States.

It also includes a version of the Afghan Adjustment Act, a measure to create a pathway to citizenship for Afghans who fled the Taliban takeover and have been living in legal limbo since.

Clamping down on asylum.

The bill would make it more difficult for migrants to claim asylum, and would remove the courts from the appeals process, putting such decisions in the hands of an internal review board. It would raise the bar for migrants who say they have a “credible fear” of persecution if returned to their home countries.

Migrants who can demonstrate a credible fear are let into the country to live and work until their cases are decided, and asylum officers can grant asylum on the spot to those demonstrating a dire need for protection.

The bill gives migrants put into expedited removal proceedings 72 hours to avail themselves of the right to retain counsel, and it guarantees unaccompanied children aged 13 or younger representation by a government-funded lawyer.

More visas and pathways to citizenship.

The bill would create 250,000 green card-eligible family and employment-based visas that would be parceled out over five years. It also would ensure that the children of immigrants who came to the United States on H-1B visas — which go to highly skilled foreign workers — would not be rendered ineligible for green cards when they become adults.

Unfettered aid to Israel and a bar on UNRWA funding.

The bill contains no restrictions on aid to Israel, despite the efforts of Democrats who have sought to ensure that any weapons paid for by the United States be used in keeping with international law.

It includes a prohibition against distributing funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, to which the United States froze assistance after Israel accused a dozen of its employees of participating in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. — Karoun Demirjian

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