John Bolton is Trump's newest nightmare

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Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe breaks down the significance of Fiona Hill's testimony on Donald Trump's impeachment inquiry.

Posted: Oct 15, 2019 4:00 PM
Updated: Oct 15, 2019 4:00 PM

The testimony of Fiona Hill and other developments in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump are summoning a reckoning for a man accustomed to battling individuals and sometimes reality itself.

Trump is facing the prospect of his presidency collapsing under the weight of sworn testimony from principled public servants like Hill and, perhaps, appointees he used, abused, and assumed he had defeated. First among them is his former national security adviser John Bolton, a powerful personality who is also inclined toward combat.

A source has told CNN that Hill, Trump's former top Russia adviser, informed Congress on Monday that she saw "wrongdoing" in US policy toward Ukraine and that (as reported first by the Wall Street Journal) John Bolton had urged her to report troubling incidents to National Security Council lawyer John Eisenberg.

Hill's testimony may eventually be regarded as an inciting incident in a narrative that could be ranked alongside Watergate as a political tragedy caused by a single man's self-delusion. In the meantime, President Trump and the rest of us will endure not a drip-drip-drip of gradual revelations, it seems, but a torrent of scandal.

Along with Hill's testimony, another dam-breaker came late Monday with the New York Times report that Bolton, then National Security Adviser, was outraged by the efforts of Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, to recruit Ukraine into a plot to undermine Democratic Presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

"Giuliani's a hand grenade that's going to blow us all up," was how Bolton reportedly put it when he learned of the alleged scheme. According to the Times, Hill revealed Bolton's comment behind closed doors on Monday with the House intelligence committee, which is investigating Trump's alleged efforts to use foreign governments to "dig up dirt on his potential rival," Biden (something Trump has denied).

The Times also reported that Bolton associated White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland with the plotting, according to Hill. And Hill reportedly told the committee that Bolton told her:"I'm not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up."

Sondland has emerged as a key figure in the Ukraine scandal. It has been widely reported that he personally assured diplomat William Taylor that Trump was not seeking quid pro quo when he held up military aid slated for Kiev and then sought the "favor" of a Ukrainian investigation into the Bidens during his infamous discussion with Ukraine's new president.

More recently Sondland, who donated generously to Trump's inauguration, reportedly offered the reassurance not because he knew it to be true but because it was what the President told him. Sondland is also expected to tell the intelligence committee what he knows.

Trump has publicly acknowledged he would like both Ukraine and China to investigate the Biden family. He and Giuliani have repeatedly suggested wrongdoing by candidate Biden's son Hunter, who had served on corporate boards in both countries. There is no evidence of wrongdoing.

As self-destructive as Trump's public statements have been, they are made all the worse by his consistent alienation of those he has asked to serve in his government. From his original Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to his recently departed acting chief of homeland security Kevin McAleenan, Trump has made those around him miserable.

The chaotic quality of Trump's reign aligns with his well-documented record. A bullying and cruel boss, Trump has spent his entire life managing on the basis of caprice and intimidation. As I found while writing a biography of Trump, he made a habit of imposing awful demands of his underlings. Those who didn't quit accepted the exorbitant pay he offered along with rapid advancement as compensation for the stress and humiliations they endured.

When it comes to the perils of Trump's management style, Exhibit A is the case of his now-imprisoned lawyer Michael Cohen. Long the proud bulldog who advocated for Trump at every opportunity, Cohen's misplaced loyalty was one of the factors that led him to break the law during a scheme that involved making payoffs to a porn star and a Playboy model who claimed to have had affairs with Trump (which Trump denies). Cohen later flipped and became a star witness for prosecutors and Congressional committee.

As President, Trump has found himself in the position of needing experts and experienced hands who, as accomplished individuals with their own reputations to safeguard, were not so easily cowed. Unable to adapt, Trump has churned through top aides at a record pace.

Bolton, who became Trump's third national security adviser in as many years, accepted offers despite the warning signs. Bolton is himself a man with a reputation for bullheadedness -- but he is not widely regarded as corruptible. Indeed, his pugnacity and pride should have told Trump he would be an unlikely toady. Perhaps, as a purported supersalesman, the president thought he could win over Bolton.

With Hill's testimony, Bolton has been established as the kind of enemy Trump should fear. It's not hard to imagine that he too will testify about what he knows. How many others might follow?

Consider the record turnover in the upper reaches of the administration and you'll have some idea of what awaits the president and the nation. A Pandora's box full of Trump's enemies has been opened, and monsters he created are pouring out.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312608

Reported Deaths: 7221
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21429257
Hinds20256414
Harrison17776308
Rankin13539278
Jackson13395246
Madison10051217
Lee9956173
Jones8364163
Forrest7633152
Lauderdale7215240
Lowndes6359144
Lamar620286
Lafayette6162118
Washington5320133
Bolivar4796132
Oktibbeha460398
Panola4545104
Pearl River4495145
Marshall4387103
Warren4368120
Pontotoc419372
Monroe4089133
Union408776
Neshoba4028176
Lincoln3939110
Hancock376686
Leflore3484125
Sunflower335290
Tate331684
Pike3290105
Scott314873
Alcorn310768
Yazoo310269
Itawamba299377
Copiah295865
Coahoma293979
Simpson293788
Tippah287268
Prentiss278560
Marion268680
Leake264973
Wayne262241
Grenada259985
Adams259882
Covington256281
Newton246961
George246748
Winston226981
Tishomingo225067
Jasper220748
Attala214273
Chickasaw207057
Holmes188672
Clay184654
Stone181433
Clarke178179
Tallahatchie177840
Calhoun169532
Yalobusha162936
Smith162034
Walthall133745
Greene130233
Lawrence128223
Noxubee126834
Montgomery126742
Perry126038
Amite123442
Carroll121628
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104626
Claiborne102130
Benton99025
Humphreys96133
Kemper95628
Franklin83323
Quitman79616
Choctaw75818
Wilkinson66830
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 528784

Reported Deaths: 10913
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson762251516
Mobile40864804
Madison34569501
Tuscaloosa25646451
Montgomery24264585
Shelby23355246
Baldwin20993306
Lee15800168
Calhoun14457312
Morgan14250279
Etowah13796352
Marshall12166222
Houston10506280
Elmore10017205
Limestone9935150
Cullman9617193
St. Clair9584237
Lauderdale9397238
DeKalb8813185
Talladega8183175
Walker7205279
Autauga6910107
Jackson6793110
Blount6621135
Colbert6282134
Coffee5491115
Dale4810111
Russell437938
Chilton4244111
Franklin423882
Covington4105117
Tallapoosa4004150
Escambia392675
Chambers3545123
Dallas3536150
Clarke350360
Marion3092100
Pike309177
Lawrence299698
Winston273572
Bibb259763
Marengo248564
Geneva247075
Pickens233559
Barbour230256
Hale221776
Butler215469
Fayette211962
Henry188544
Cherokee183845
Randolph179241
Monroe176240
Washington166839
Macon158649
Clay153356
Crenshaw151657
Cleburne148341
Lamar141234
Lowndes138453
Wilcox126528
Bullock122941
Conecuh110028
Perry107526
Coosa106828
Sumter104132
Greene92234
Choctaw60324
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