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John Bolton Just Threatened To Run For President To Challenge Trump—And It's Not Going Over Well

The former national security adviser was less than impressed by Trump's call to 'terminate' parts of the Constitution.

NBC News screenshot of John Bolton; Donald Trump
NBC News; Drew Angerer/Getty Images

John Bolton—who in recent years has become best known as former Republican President Donald Trump's ex-national security adviser—criticized Trump's call for the "termination" of the United States Constitution following the “Twitter files” leak of a series of messages between the social media platform's leadership team in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.

The purportedly leaked messages shed light on the political disputes that erupted at Twitter as its officials deliberated over how to handle the dissemination of a New York Post story about the contents of a laptop owned by President Biden's son, attorney Hunter Biden.

The "Twitter files" leak has sparked debates among pundits, media ethicists and lawmakers on either side of the political aisle as a sign of recklessness at Twitter, which has rambled from one crisis to another under the leadership of billionaire Elon Musk, who acquired the platform in October.

But it appeared to envigorate Trump, who suggested the contents of the leak warranted either redoing the election entirely or a coup d'etat in which he would be installed as President.

A less than impressed Bolton condemned Trump's actions—and threatened to run for the executive office himself if other GOP candidates don't repudiate Trump's blatantly undemocratic suggestion.

You can hear what Bolton said below.

Bolton said:

"I think to be a presidential candidate you can't simply say, 'I support the Constitution.' You have to say, 'I would oppose people who would undercut it.'"
"You know, we used to have a thing in the House of Representatives called the House Unamerican Affairs Committee. I think when you challenge the Constitution itself the way Trump has done, that is un-American."

When asked for what a "timeline" of his candidacy might look like, Bolton said:

"Look, all of the potential candidates know what Trump has said. This is no secret to anybody. I don't see why they aren't saying it right now."
"I think the voters, the Republican voters, people who choose the Republican nominee, nearly 95 percent disagree that Donald Trump is more important than the Constitution. I'm afraid there are some who would stick with Trump on this."
"What does a candidate have to lose by appealing to 95 percent of the base of the Republican Party? I actually think most Republican elected officials in Washington disagree with Trump on this but they're intimidated. This is the time where there's strength in numbers."
"The more people who tell the truth, the easier it is for everybody else. ... I'd like to see Shermanesque statements from all the potential candidates [rejecting Trump's comments]. If I don't see that, then I'm seriously going to consider getting in."

Bolton might have thought that his threat to run would appeal to conservatives looking for a more principled option, failing to consider that many Republicans dislike him for standing up to Trump.

Online reactions show that Bolton—who once bragged that "it takes a lot of work" to plan coups d’etat against foreign governments—is quite unpopular.

His remarks were mocked as a result.

Bolton has become one of Trump’s harshest critics since leaving his administration. His book, The Room Where It Happened, reveals salacious details about his time working in the White House.

Trump has scoffed at all of Bolton’s claims and dismissed him as a liar during interviews and in posts to his official Twitter account when it was still active. He often referred to him as “Wacko Bolton” online.

Trump even attempted to stop the publication of Bolton’s book on grounds that he’d “likely published classified materials” and “exposed his country to harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability,” but the lawsuit was tossed out by a federal judge.

Later, Washington Post reporters Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta revealed in their book Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History that Trump said he hoped COVID-19 would “take out” his former national security adviser.