Cops Try To Escalate Nothing Into Something For “Officer Safety”

If these cops are filling their diapers because a nice woman is looking out for her sister and child then they have ABSOLUTELY no business being cops. No courage, no integrity, no honor. Ged rid of thrm.

 

 

 

  • When an officer starts stuttering his words you know you’re in trouble because he’s trying to come up with a situation that does not exist so he struggles with the words to create it
  • That officer is so out of control with his emotions he is now a danger to the public because he has a gun
  • That looks like more than two car distance away. It’s like 5 car length away. Man there are so many cowardly cops out there, it’s a shame.
  • WOMAN: I served in the Military COP: I don’t give a Fuck !! That sums it up right there !!!
  • Who knows what they would have done without a witness! It’s amazing the tyrants’ recordings were available for release.
  • The entire Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Department is terrible. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • He knows exactly who she is. It’s on his computer. They never ask questions they don’t already know the answer to.
  • “I’m gonna make sure I go home every night.” I’d argue that that’s not in any way part of your duties to serve and protect your community!!! Not yourselves. This is why people HATE you
  • Everyone needs to call the sheriffs department and let us stand up for our veterans
  • As a citizen I would like to point out the most important thing to me when I get pulled over by the police is my safety. I have just as much right to protect my safety as they do I have just as much fear in me as they do and for them to take away our worries and concerns and only think of their others is just another drop in the bucket
  • So, this chicken cop can call for back-up, but her sister can’t wait to make sure she is safe, and if a cop has to worry about his safety all the time he needs to go work at Kentucky Fried Chicken, the only thing threatening is the chicken, that officer was rude the minute he walked up too the car I have seen those videos the whole objective is to kill and go home there is no bridging the gap, cops don’t want it.
  • It would have been so easy for the second cop to just stay with the sister until the stop was over.
  • So nice that the sergeant came to copsplain at the end. Those women feel so much safer now when they know it’s okay for cops to do whatever they like to you.
  • “His words” did not initially state or ever state a probable cause or reasonable articulation of suspicion that a traffic violation has been committed or any other justification for running the woman’s license plate.. Randomly running plates without a just cause is grasping for low hanging fruit in search for any reason to stop a citizen. Targeting citizens without just cause is harassment!
  • So if someone gets pulled over in a residential neighborhood everyone needs to vacate the area?
  • The way the officer is swearing with a child in the back is disgusting, yet entirely expected.
  • Police are trained to be professional arguers. They want to escalate the situation until you do or say something that they can use against you.
  • I don’t understand why the cop got upset about the other car being there. I see multiple cars pulled over together all the time in traffic stops.
  • Sick of cops acting like they’re perfect angels and think everyone is out to get them. Absolutely no self awareness
  • The policing institution is decayed with corruption, ego/anger issues, stupidity, and a blatant disregard for the U.S. Constitution.
  • At this point, I think it’s safe to say law enforcement have become domestic terrorists. And the kick in the teeth is that they’re paid for by their victims.
  • They can get away with assault, they did right here. Even a complaint won’t even be listened to, or lead to any punishment. I agree with your stand your ground statement. edit: Battery, they got away with battery and covering up the battery. That officer should have spent time in jail for crushing that woman with the vehicle’s door.
  • I love how these cops think that people aren’t in danger when these thugs pull them over…..they honestly think that there lives are more important then ours!
  • We must outlaw any and every military member from entering law enforcement. They consider us civilians, which means their mentality tells them they are in a warzone! I left you an email James, are you going to leave the rest of of that need help?
  • I love that the officer tried to overpower her and close her door and miserably got out muscled and failed.
  • Did he really say she was 2 car lengths ahead of them? That’s obviously a blatant lie… she has every right to stop on the side of the road and wait.. This is bullying, plain and simple, and unfortunately is normal, and not the exception, these days…
  • This is my sister and I. All I want to say is the main point that’s concerning to me and that has given me PTSD hasn’t even been highlighted. These officers were conspiring to take my child from me! That’s the issue! One of the officers said he would “hem us up” if the other cop wanted him to then the other cop said “shhhh” and pointed to his body cam. Why is this being overlooked?! It has caused great distress in my child and myself.
  • Don’t worry guys, I’m sure he isn’t in that position anymore, he probably got promoted
  • James perhaps you can speak with a DA or AG on this issue and show the police training is wrong and needs to change for instances like this
  • He is delaying the traffic stop beyond what is reasonable. He could go back to his cruiser and feel as safe as possible. But he is not doing that.
  • I love when they say -“I’m not going to play this game” when they know they are full of shit.
  • Somebody needs to teach the cops the law they are violating more laws than they are enforcing good God Almighty how stupid can they be did they not swear an oath to the Constitution of the United States of America I want every law enforcement officer in this country to reaffirm they’re allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America if they have the balls to do it because they love to violate people’s rights instead of protecting them this is getting ridiculous God help us all when a cop will do this to a woman on the side of a highway Jesus Christ
  • I find it very interesting how I really like your interpretation of those events compared to the VERY LAME assessment from “Audit the Audit”. They must be boot lickers because they gave that cop a “B-“. You have hit the nail on the head. It just amazes me that even with today’s technologies that cops still come up with the idea that their safety is paramount and above the safety of anyone and everyone else. That black vehicle was at least 50 feet away from the traffic stop but they cannot stand for any witnesses to their predatory practices. The only words I have to describe those tyrantical cops are “BADGE DRUNK“. Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely. I really hate it when a cop trys copspaining away the reason why they broke the law.
  • If these LEOs are sooooo damn scared for their safety, why don’t they get a safer job? Quit, if you’re scared.
  • Of course. Any car driving by can do a drive by, yes cops.. close the whole freeway 🙄
  • Damn he could’ve already written the ticket already damn the ego on this coward
  • It’s very telling that the cops stumble over and ignore the most important question from the driver; “What law is that?” Of course they can’t actually name a law.
  • And then to put the icing on the cake he assaults her with the door and starts fighting with her to close the door and then finally says f*** it I don’t care anymore. And this man is on the streets interacting with the public and the department doesn’t see an issue with this this is a lawsuit waiting to happen I have a gut feeling this officer will end up discharging his gun because of emotional feelings he cannot check his emotions he cannot keep his emotions in balance he creates such horrible situations that puts the public in danger
  • I’ve been in this same situation. It’s about ego, hubris and control.
  • Officer safety? Being a cop is one of the safest jobs out there! You would think that he is a carpenter or something the way he worries about his own safety.
  • I am usually the first to defend a cop’s actions but this just makes my blood boil. These cops are plain wrong!
  • I’m so sick of tyrants violating our rights in the name of “SAFETY”
  • Ugh. I’ve scaled back my 1A viewing to a handful of auditors or aggregate sources because of the sheer stupidity of these cops. I can only take so much stupidity every week. At first it was funny, then educationally fun… now it’s just downright scary. They really have an us v.s. them mentality.
  • Wow, that “I’m gonna make sure i go home every day” was just mind boggling. Completely out of context but showing from where he’s speaking. James, can you go behind the curtain and do a video about the training. I think that would be an eye opener for many people that still believe that cops are protecting and serving anybody. Keep up the good work. God bless!
  • I don’t blame the cops being so paranoid after seeing these types of interactions with law abiding citizens who needs criminals
  • I cannot believe the immaturity of this so called law enforcement officer. This is all about ego and has absolutely nothing to do with officer safety!
  • By their behavior she had every right to stay there because obviously her sister needed a witness to the behavior of these officers for they are clearly not following the color of the law
  • 🤦🤷 this was/is in my back yard. I’ve got 40 years here born and raised. Been harassed caged and beat by these guys. At least they have body cams now. This first guy talking is a fast talking tyrant
  • The cop says 1/3 of the time he runs a license plate it comes back with a suspended license or warrant. So one out of three people driving down the road have a warrant or suspended license? Unbelievable that the cop can just make up fake facts. I can guarantee you that it’s not one third of people. Wow.
  • This isn’t even surprising anymore it’s just upsetting.
  • The Academy teaches these murderers exactly what they want to hear. That is they can murderer anyone they want without reason or impunity. Police academies is where reform has to start.
  • Once you figure out that police are only there to protect state property and state assets it all makes sense. “To serve and protect” is true, but it’s not to serve and protect you, it’s to serve and protect state property and state officials. Period
  • I love James. He tells it like it is. This cop is so flustered he’s dangerous in my opinion. She’s not close to the traffic stop. She’s waiting for her sister. This is proof her sister is right by waiting for her.
  • 2 very smart ladies who had each others backs true girl power well done girls
  • It’s amazing how 99% of these videos has the cop just opening unlocked doors. I changed the factory settings of my truck that my doors remain locked when I put it in park.
  • Honestly, the most telling sign in this whole video that they are NOT worried for their safety — when the lady in the black car finally agrees to give her ID, you can see the cop in the window reflection casually chewing gum with his hands on his hips while she digs through a large ‘purse’ (for almost 30 seconds) that could easily be holding a very large handgun or any other kind of weapon…he’s not threatened in any way, otherwise he would be on high alert. She’s lucky that he was just there to throw his weight around and bully her, otherwise she could have been shot by a hypervigilant cop.
  • One officer could deal with the white car solo… He only called back-up for the 2nd black vehicle, so why does she have to leave once back-up is there to watch her? Follow the logic – she needs to leave so I’m safe on my own – now I’m not alone she still needs to leave (why?) But now she can stay there because he’s getting his desirse fulfilled by obtaining her ID… Does she need to leave or not?
  • Why are all cops so emotionally unstable and unable to communicate with the public in the way a “peace” officer or public servant should?
  • Keep in mind they are trained to act on fear. Nothing at all like military. We trained to run towards the fight not shit our britches on a traffic stop with two harmless ladies.
  • It’s seriously like they go out of their way to imagine new ways to earn the hate daily.
  • That training session sounded like they are creating heartless killers.
  • The saying “back the blue until it happens to you” is catchy and clever, however, this is one I don’t have to learn in the School of Hard Knocks, ty!
  • “In this day and age” ALWAYS LOCK YOUR CAR DOORS AND KEEP THEM LOCKED!!
  • Dude is literally making shit up as he goes: “Not within two car’s lengths.” Maybe he has depth-perception issues too.
  • Since when did it become illegal to pull on the shoulder of the road?
  • Sister: “What law am I breaking?” Cop: “It’s not safe.”
  • Are they really training him to “can I shoot a child?” That is very concerning.
  • “We investigated ourselves, and found we did NOTHING wrong!” What do you suppose would happen to you if you slammed a cops door on him like that?
  • Cops should be fearful for their life when they act like this.
  • I think of that young child in their mothers back seat, who now is probably afraid of police, and now knows their true behavior.
  • I was once in that child’s shoes. Only we were in our kitchen and my dad went out on the porch to speak to a sharpsville police officer. The discussion got heated and the cop assaulted my dad with his huge mag flashlights from the 90s. When they got a warrant and broke into our home they pointed a shotguns at my mom and us kids! Yeah really wonderful experience. Back the blue until it happens to you.
  • Can you only imagine the shit they got away with before the advent of body cameras and cell phone cameras. It must’ve been a great time for the cops being able to do anything they want to do. Watching this video makes my blood boil.
  • Thatinstigate. They are the lowest form of citizen.
  • Yes, officer safety is the most important consideration. And remember, there are only twenty-two other professions in the US that are more dangerous ..
  • Nothing’s going to change until we do away with qualified immunity
  • After watching these videos, I am surprised we are not reading about more cops getting smoked EVERY day. These guys are out of control.
  • Almost as if they get paid exclusively to escalate
  • If witnesses make you nervous you’re up to no good.. this video defines why cops hate cameras!
  • Cop 101: always escalate. Always use violence. Always earn the hate
  • @12:20 James claims that she has the right to be there but be wary of that advice, you might risk some trouble. Audit the audit covered this video also where he explains why the cops may have the authority to ask her to leave the scene.
  • Isn’t it just so awesome how they make up their own rules laws and just escalate situations out of control. I know for a fact they’re taught how to escalate situations they’re not taught how to deescalate because none of them know how to do that.
  • I love the ones where they got the body cam footage because that means they’ve already taken the first step towards suing the department.
  • When his superiors hear his language saying” I don’t give a fuck” he should be fired on the spot.
  • “I run tags all day long” ….. this is what really happens!
  • Same thing happened when my wife was following me and got pulled over. I pulled over. The cop approached my wife’s car. Then he walked up to me. I said, “She’s following me to my parents house. She’s never been there before.” The cop said, “OK, she was speeding. I’ll be done in a minute.” That was it. No big deal. That was before cell phones and digital maps.
  • Here’s the bottom line everybody!
    • 1. We know how they’re trained
    • 2. We know they’re not responsible for our safety anymore.
    • 3. We know they are allowed to lie to our faces legally.
    • 4. We know they use terry stops, and Call it officer safety.
    • 5. We know they’re protected by police unions.
    • 6. We know they are protected by qualified immunity.
    • 7. We know that they police themselves any time a complaint comes in.
    • 8. We know that most of the people they pick on have no money to protect themselves.
    • 9. They know when they do get caught, the people, cities and counties, and insurance companies, pay for their mistakes.
    • 10. That’s why we are considered guilty until proven innocent.
    • 11. We know we are on trial every time we’re pulled over. So as you can see everything is automatically stacked against us. Yes we have rights, yes we have the constitution, but when you’re guilty until proven innocent our system is broken. Our forefathers would be rolling in their graves, when they see the leaders of this country stomping on our God-given rights. As a country at this time we are all in grave danger. Our system has turned against us. The sad thing is we have allowed it, and we pay for it financially, emotionally, and physically.
  •  Imagine how this would of have gone without bodycam, we know how! They would of beaten that woman probably murdered her and claim she was reaching for his gun or she assaulted him or some bullshit excuse. Man something needs to be done.
  • For “Officer safety” gives them illusion of unlimited power. The training video clearly showed they’re trained to be aggressive tyrants.
  • 8:00 I don’t know you. You don’t know me. That justifies the officers fear in his eyes but somehow doesn’t justify her being afraid and having someone nearby keeping an eye out for her. It used to be witnesses were a good thing.
  • What if the toddler had a gun. That officer is so brave. Putting his life on the line to keep the community safe from disabled moms and kids. He should get an accomodation for bravery.
  • You don’t have to identify simply because they’re a law enforcement officer.. You have the right to be to be secure in your papers and documents..
  • I’m more than a little concerned that the cops in this town (and probably others) are just randomly running plates as they drive around, without actually having a valid reason to do so….then initiating traffic stops without a violation having been committed…looks like a revenue generating scheme to me…
  • At about 7:00 punk cop admits there’s no reason for him to go to the other car! And if you look close at the image of other cars four or five car lengths away! Why would you be afraid…… your bullets would travel much more distance then that!
  • It appears that officer is putting everyone in danger with not only his behavior, but because he is not taken care of the reason he pulled her over and getting them underway.
  • He sounded drunk and extremely childlike. His partner was just an idiot. The Sergeant has allowed this Officer to escalate a peaceful situation and made a fool out of the whole Police Department. This all reflects on the Chief and the Mayor.
  • That guy’s voice started quaking as soon as his he felt his supposed authority being questioned. He’s obviously intimidated by women. And, while I’m not saying this as fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he suffered from some kind of extreme abuse at some point, if it’s not ongoing at home. He needs to undergo a full psychological evaluation by a 3rd party professional to determine whether or not he’s fit for duty. Pretty scary that someone that emotionally compromised is carrying a firearm in the line of duty.
  • So from the get go he used a questionable tactic to get her pulled over with the running random tags without any laws being broken.
  • It’s not safe for you to be here! 🤯 What happened to protect & serve?!!! You’re always safe w us heroes! 😵‍💫
  • I do think the officers could have been more professional and could have handled it differently, but what it boils down too is this lady was obstructing the traffic stop by her very presence. She’s causing the officers attention to be diverted to her instead of the vehicle that he stopped.
  • she was well above the 10 ft recommendation. she should have gotten out on the public roadside and recorded him, from a safe distance.
  • The true fact is they hate accountability and they hate it more when citizens know more than they do. In today’s society it’s more dangerous to be a citizen stop by the police, than it is to be a Police Officer, especially when the Police ask you to get out of your car in any situation.
  • That fear-based training tho.
  • “Not within 2 car lengths of my traffic stop”. SUV is at least 4 car lengths away. The officer’s complaint with the other vehicle is with the other driver, not the driver he pulled over and harrassed. The officer was unnecessarily prolonging the detainment. The police officer has obvious anger issues. He will likely be the cause of unnecessary harm to citizens in the future. Wow, he even tries to slam the vehicle door on the woman. The police officer has more to worry about with all of the moving vehicles driving by than the woman who pulled over in wait for her sister.
  • Asserting your rights makes these tyrants soooo mad
  • I like when police say their recording the interaction you after wait 2 or 3 years to get it and pay over hundreds dollars
  • Florida Statute 901.151, no crime no ID gets null and voided when a cops ego is shattered.
  • “I’ll explain it to you later “. Uh no sir. Explain it to me first then I’ll know if I’m legally obligated to cooperate!
  • I don’t get why he’s yelling from 40ft away trying to tell the black car to go and then telling the women in the white car that the black car has to leave but never actually goes to the black car and tells it to leave. He’s just got ego issues.
  • Embarrassing, disgusting and unprofessional are the kinder words I would use to describe the tyrant cops behaviour. A textbook example of how to turn decent people against cops.
  • I feel bad for his family. all of their families.
  • I the police exam needs to include questions to test the canidate’s undersanding as to why ciruclar reasoning is absurd.

 

John Bolton on the Warpath

Can Trump’s national-security adviser sell the isolationist President on military force?

Bolton graduated from law school as the Reagan revolution was taking shape. He moved to Washington, joined the law firm of Covington & Burling, and immersed himself in the conservative cause. Bolton was active in a series of conflicts that helped define the battleground of contemporary politics. He worked as Ralph Winter’s assistant and, while still in his twenties, was involved  in guiding a landmark federal lawsuit, Buckley v. Valeo, to the Supreme Court. Winter and Bolton made the case that strict limits on campaign spending violated the right to free speech. They won, and the decision helped release a flood of private money into the American political system. In 1985, Bolton joined the Reagan Justice Department; there, he helped shepherd the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork, whose ultimately unsuccessful bid began the era of fiercely partisan high-court nominations. During the contested Presidential election of 2000, Bolton flew to Florida to help insure that George W. Bush secured the office. In his memoir, he notes, with only slight embarrassment, that Republican colleagues called him “the Atticus Finch of Palm Beach County.”

.. Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, urged an assertive use of military power abroad, while Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, was more restrained. Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s chief of staff, told me that Bolton was appointed to his position only at Cheney’s insistence. “Everyone knew that Bolton was Cheney’s spy,”
.. Bolton told the group, “I don’t care about Syria, but I do care about Iran.” He said that the American forces would stay in Syria until the Iranians left—potentially for years. Bolton told his aides to communicate the new policy to the Russians, and he declared it publicly in September, 2018.
.. Richard Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of State, took Bolton aside and “told him to shut up,” Wilkerson said. Before Bolton testified to Congress, much of his language was diluted. Armitage reached out to a team of intelligence officers who vetted public statements made by State Department officials, and asked them to give special scrutiny to Bolton’s. “Nothing Bolton said could leave the building until I O.K.’d it,” Thomas Fingar, who led the team at the time, told me.

.. As the Bush White House made the case to invade Iraq, Bolton came into conflict with José Bustani, who was in charge of overseeing the Chemical Weapons Convention—a treaty, endorsed by the U.S. and a hundred and ninety-two other countries, that bans the production of chemical weapons. Bustani, a former senior diplomat from Brazil, was negotiating with the Iraqi government to adopt the treaty, which mandated immediate inspections by outside technicians. He thought that, if inspectors could verify that Iraq had abandoned its chemical-weapons program, an invasion wouldn’t be necessary. But, he told me, when the Iraqis agreed to accept the convention, the Bush Administration asked him to halt his negotiations. “I think the White House was worried that if I succeeded it would mess up their plans to invade,” he said.

Not long afterward, Bustani recalls, Bolton showed up at his office in The Hague and demanded that he resign. When Bustani refused, Bolton said, “We know you have two sons in New York. We know your daughter is in London. We know where your wife is.” (Bolton has denied this.) Bustani held firm, and the White House, determined to remove him, convened an extraordinary session of the Convention’s members—in many cases, Bustani said, paying the travel expenses of delegates to insure that they attended. The group voted forty-eight to seven, with forty-three abstentions, to cut short Bustani’s term.

Later that year, Bustani was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, for his work against chemical weapons. When U.S. troops moved into Iraq, they found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Commentators across the political spectrum have decried the invasion—even Trump calls it “a big, fat mistake”—but Bolton hasn’t changed his view. In 2015, he told the Washington Examiner, “I still think the decision to overthrow Saddam was correct.”

 

.. In March, 2005, Bush nominated Bolton to be the Ambassador to the United Nations, a move that was widely seen as an expression of contempt for the institution. Bolton had a history of deriding the U.N., once saying that if the headquarters “lost ten stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”

Still, Democrats in the Senate anticipated a routine hearing; they were the minority party and could do little to resist. Tony Blinken, who was the staff director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told me that the members began to reconsider as they examined Bolton’s work in the State Department. “We saw a pattern of Mr. Bolton trying to manipulate intelligence to justify his views,” Blinken told me. “If it had happened once, maybe. But it came up multiple times, and always it was the same underlying issue: he would stake out a position, and then, if the intelligence didn’t support it, he would try to exaggerate the intelligence and marginalize the officials who had produced it.” After several days of testimony, Senator George Voinovich, a Republican from Ohio, declared, “John Bolton is the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be.”

The committee declined to advance Bolton’s nomination, but Bush moved ahead anyway, sending him to the U.N. on a “recess appointment,” a temporary assignment made when the Senate is out of session. His old friend Clarence Thomas swore him in. Bolton’s associates from that time told me that he refrained from ordinary diplomatic niceties: he did not engage in small talk, linger at cocktail parties, or attend national commemorations. Not long after Bolton took the job, Bush visited him in New York. “Are you having fun?” Bush asked. “It’s a target-rich environment,” Bolton replied.

In “Surrender Is Not an Option,” Bolton gives a minute-by-minute accounting of his time at the U.N., describing both foes and allies in strikingly undiplomatic language. He refers to “EUroids,” the European diplomats whom he generally regarded as soft on America’s enemies; to “the Crusaders of Compromise,” as he describes the national-security establishment; and to “the True Believers and the High Minded.” He even derides the U.K., traditionally America’s closest ally. “Many Brits believed that their role in life was to play Athens to America’s Rome, lending us the benefit of their superior suaveness, and smoothing off our regrettable colonial rough edges,” Bolton writes.

Bolton built a reputation for being abrasive but knowledgeable, with tremendous powers of recall. A U.S. diplomat told me that he once walked into Bolton’s office at the U.N. to ask about an issue concerning Somalia. Bolton replied by quoting, verbatim, from a memo written during the Reagan Administration, some twenty years before. “As John’s talking about it, I can see his eyes moving back and forth like he’s reading the memo—he was reading it from memory,” the diplomat told me.

.. Colleagues from other countries struggled to accommodate him. “On a personal basis, you can joke with him,” the Western diplomat who knows Bolton told me. Working with him was a different story: “Coöperation was possible, but very much on his conditions.” Bolton had spent decades refining an argument that multilateral institutions and international agreements often did more harm than good—that each one represented a loss of American sovereignty. “Bolton has a Hobbesian view of the universe—life is nasty, brutish, and short,” the former American official who worked with Bolton told me. “There are a lot of nasty people out there who want to do us harm. If our country’s interests align with another’s, it’s a fleeting phenomenon, and the moment our interests diverge they will sell us down the river.” Bolton doesn’t ordinarily concern himself with the internal affairs of other nations, or with trying to democratize them, the former official said: “The U.S. has values domestically, but he doesn’t give a shit about the values of others. If it advances your interests to work with another country, then do it.

Bolton had some successes at the U.N. Most notably, he helped persuade the Security Council to impose its first economic sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear-weapons programs. But when his post expired, after sixteen months, the Democrats had won back the majority in Congress, and it was clear that Bolton would not be confirmed. On December 31, 2006, he stepped down.

.. A few months later, Bolton appeared on Fox News to warn viewers that their government was intolerably complacent. “Six years after 9/11, people are simply not focussing the way they should,” he said. “I hope it is not going to take another 9/11 to wake us up—particularly not a 9/11 with weapons of mass destruction.” Bolton, for years a favored guest on Fox, became a paid commentator. During the next decade, he made hundreds of appearances, often arguing that America needed to act urgently to counter threats from abroad. He spoke in favor of military strikes on Iranian training camps (“This is not provocative or preëmptive—this is entirely responsive”), forced regime change in North Korea (“the only solution”), and punitive measures against Vladimir Putin for sheltering the intelligence leaker Edward Snowden (“We need to do things that cause him pain”).

After decades of public-sector work, Bolton grew rich in the private sector. According to a financial disclosure that he filed before joining Trump’s Administration, he made at least two million dollars in 2017, including some six hundred thousand from Fox; two hundred and fifty thousand from the American Enterprise Institute, where he was a senior fellow; and a hundred and twenty thousand from Rhône Group, a private-equity firm. In the course of ten years, Bolton wrote at least six hundred newspaper articles, and the uncompromising beliefs that had piqued colleagues in government found a willing audience outside it. After the Bush Administration reduced sanctions on North Korea, he wrote, in an op-ed, “Nothing can erase the ineffable sadness of an American presidency, like this one, in total intellectual collapse.” When Bush was asked about it, he said, “I don’t consider Bolton credible,” and lamented spending political capital on him. The Obama Administration and its diplomatic efforts in the Middle East inspired even greater scorn. Following Obama’s acceptance speech for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, which Bolton criticized as “turgid,” “repetitive,” and “high-school level,” he dismissed the President as fundamentally naïve. Homo sapiens are hardwired for violent conflict,” he said. “We’re not going to eliminate violent conflict until Homo sapiens ceases to exist as a separate species.” Later, he wrote a book-length jeremiad about international law titled “How Barack Obama Is Endangering Our National Sovereignty.”

.. Bolton found an especially enthusiastic reception for arguments about the dangers of Islam. From 2013 to 2018, he was the chairman of the Gatestone Institute, which describes itself as “dedicated to educating the public about what the mainstream media fails to report.” The institute, which paid Bolton a hundred and fifty-five thousand dollars in 2017, has published virulently anti-Muslim articles of questionable accuracy. During Bolton’s tenure, one article warned of an impending “jihadist takeover” of Europe, and another claimed that immigrants from Somalia and other countries were turning Sweden into the “rape capital of the West.” A report titled “History of the Muslim Brotherhood Penetration of the U.S. Government” suggested that both the anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and the State Department official Huma Abedin were sleeper agents. According to a database maintained by NBC News, at least four articles published by Gatestone were retweeted by the Internet Research Agency, the Russian intelligence front that led efforts to sow dissension during the 2016 election.

Like many conservatives in Israel and in the U.S., Bolton rejects the idea of a two-state solution. At a speech in Israel in 2017, he instead advocated a “three-state solution,” in which Israel, Jordan, and Egypt would divide up the Palestinian territories in Gaza and the West Bank, abolishing the political entities that now exist there. For that speech, Bolton received a hundred thousand dollars and a Guardian of Zion Award from Bar-Ilan University.

As Bolton became a celebrity in conservative media, he used his visibility to establish himself in electoral politics. In 2013, he set up a political-action committee, John Bolton Super pac, which raised money to support Republican candidates. The most significant donor was Robert Mercer, the right-wing activist, hedge-fund billionaire, and co-founder of the data firm Cambridge Analytica, which later became notorious for capturing private information from some eighty-seven million Facebook users. Mercer gave the super pac a total of five million dollars. During the elections in 2014 and 2016, Bolton’s organization paid Cambridge Analytica $1.2 million, for psychographic data to tailor messages that would help Senate candidates, including Scott Brown, in New Hampshire, and Thom Tillis, in North Carolina. But Groombridge, Bolton’s former aide, told me that the data turned out to be less effective than promised. “It was useless,” he said. “We used it the way they told us, and it had no discernible impact whatsoever.”

.. After forming the pac, Bolton briefly considered running for President, but people close to him said that he was more focussed on another job. “He was running for Secretary of State,” Groombridge told me. As with Bolton’s nomination for U.N. Ambassador, there were reasons for concern that he wouldn’t pass Senate confirmation. In Bolton’s financial disclosure, he listed a forty-thousand-dollar payment, for a speech that he gave, in 2016, to Mujahideen-e-Khalq, an Iranian exile group dedicated to overthrowing the government in Tehran. The M.E.K., which professes an eccentric variant of Islam, has been characterized by many experts as resembling a cult. From 1997 until 2012, the United States listed it as a terrorist group, owing to a campaign of bombings and assassinations that it led in Iran. Bolton’s association with the group apparently went back at least to that time. During the speech in 2016, he told the crowd, “I just say again what I have been saying for ten years that I’ve been coming to this rally: the regime in Tehran needs to be overthrown at the earliest opportunity!”

Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a frequent critic of the regime, said that Bolton’s relationship with the group should have disqualified him from senior government jobs. “Anyone who pimps himself out to the M.E.K. fails the litmus test for integrity,” he said.

In 2011, Bolton became the head of the National Rifle Association’s international-affairs subcommittee. Two years later, he gave a video address to a conference hosted by a Russian gun-rights group, the Right to Bear Arms. In it, Bolton offered congratulations on the twentieth anniversary of the Russian constitution, which, he said, “signalled a new era of freedom for the Russian people and created a new force for democracy in the world.”

The conference appears to have been connected with the Kremlin’s campaign to influence politically powerful groups in the United States. It was organized by Maria Butina, who was recently sentenced to eighteen months in prison for conspiracy, after attempting to infiltrate the N.R.A. on behalf of the Russian government. Butina worked closely on the Right to Bear Arms with Alexander Torshin, a politician and an associate of Putin’s with links to organized crime. Last May, three days before Bolton became the national-security adviser, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Torshin, barring him from the Western financial system.

Bolton’s disclosure also listed payments, totalling a hundred and fifteen thousand dollars, from a foundation controlled by Viktor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian oligarch. Pinchuk presents his foundation as a forum for diverse views, but his allegiances are murky. In 2012, he reportedly paid Gregory Craig, a former counsel for the Obama White House, to write a report intended to exonerate Ukraine’s pro-Russian President for jailing his chief opponent. (Pinchuk denies this.) Craig is now under indictment for lying about the matter to investigators working for the special counsel Robert Mueller. (Bolton’s connections later inspired questions about whether he posed a security risk. In March, 2019, Tricia Newbold, a White House personnel officer, testified that Trump had given security clearances to twenty-five White House officials who had failed to pass background checks. The names of those people were not released, but, after the news broke, the House Oversight Committee asked to see Bolton’s personnel files, along with those of several others.)

In his bid for Secretary of State, Bolton had support from populist conservatives. According to a former senior Administration adviser, the Mercer family “pushed hard for him.” But his candidacy was derailed by members of the Republican establishment. Robert M. Gates, the former Secretary of Defense, and Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State, suggested that Trump appoint Rex Tillerson, an oil C.E.O. with experience in international business. “I wanted to recommend someone who would be good,” Gates told me. Tillerson got the job.

One weekend in 2017, Bolton and General H. R. McMaster were invited to Mar-a-Lago, the President’s Palm Beach mansion, to audition to become national-security adviser. McMaster won. A decorated veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with a reputation as an iconoclast, he came to Mar-a-Lago in full-dress uniform. According to the former senior Administration adviser, McMaster had support from Jared Kushner, who thought that his appointment would play well in the press. Trump admired Bolton’s Fox appearances—he has praised him as “a tough cookie.” But the former senior Administration adviser told me that Trump, who prefers that his officials look the part, was put off by Bolton’s mustache—and, more significant, by his interventionist mind-set. “Trump had big reservations,” the official said. “John wants to bomb everyone.”

If Bolton was disappointed at being passed over, McMaster’s experience in the White House might have reassured him. McMaster was sorely out of place: a seasoned navigator of international institutions working for a President who often seemed determined to tear them down. The chemistry between McMaster and Trump was never good. “H.R. is intense, and he would try to tell the President as best he could the consequences of his decisions,” a former senior Administration official told me.

McMaster also clashed with Secretary of Defense James Mattis. On numerous occasions, current and former officials say, Mattis tried to block White House initiatives, leaving McMaster caught in the middle. In the fall of 2017, McMaster was planning a private session to develop military options for the possibility of conflict with North Korea: a war game, with Trump in attendance, at the Presidential retreat in Camp David. McMaster asked Mattis to send officers and planners. Mattis ignored him. “He prevented the thing from happening,” the former senior Administration official told me. Later, Mattis kept General John Nicholson, the commander of American forces in Afghanistan, from meeting with Trump.

 

Administration officials speculate that Mattis was trying to avoid a war, or that he simply wanted to control the flow of information, so that the President could not make ill-advised decisions. “There are a lot of people in the Administration who want to limit the President’s options because they don’t want the President to get anything done,” the former senior Administration official told me.

Mattis declined to comment for the record, but a former senior national-security official told me, without confirming any incidents, that a strategy had evolved. “The President thinks out loud,” he said. “Do you treat it like an order? Or do you treat it as part of a longer conversation? We treated it as part of a longer conversation.” By allowing Trump to talk without acting, he said, “we prevented a lot of bad things from happening.” In 2017, Mattis and his staff helped forestall a complete withdrawal of American forces from both Afghanistan and Syria.

McMaster also acquired enemies outside the White House. Mort Klein, the head of the Zionist Organization of America, told me he believed that McMaster was “hostile to Israel,” citing offenses that ranged from advocating “Palestinian self-determination” to dodging a question about whether the Western Wall is in Israeli territory. Klein began a quiet campaign against McMaster, with help from Sheldon Adelson, the Republican casino magnate, and Safra Catz, the C.E.O. of Oracle, both of whom are fervent supporters of the Israeli right wing. “We were pushing for him to be fired,” Klein told me. For Klein and his allies, Bolton’s politics were more appealing. He has deep connections to the Israeli national-security establishment and to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2018, he gave a well-compensated speech to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. “John almost regards Israel as part of the United States,” the former official who worked with Bolton told me. “He thinks our interests and their interest are identical.”

.. In March, 2018, according to a former Administration official, the President called McMaster and asked what he would think if Bolton became the new national-security adviser. It was clear to McMaster that he was being fired, but less clear that the President was certain Bolton was the right replacement. The official, who overheard Trump’s side of the conversation, recalled that the President ended the call with an uncomfortable joke: “Bolton is a hawk like you. He’s going to get us into a war.”

When Bolton took over, he quickly demonstrated an unsentimental style: he told Trump that he could not work with McMaster’s former aide Keith Kellogg, a seventy-three-year-old veteran who had won a Silver Star in Vietnam. Trump decided to send Kellogg to work for Vice-President Mike Pence. The former senior Administration official told me that there was widespread sympathy for Bolton: “Kellogg doesn’t have all of his faculties. He’s like the crazy uncle at Thanksgiving. But Trump liked him, so Pence had to take him.”

McMaster had set up a rigorous process for discussing issues with staff members, making recommendations to the President, and disseminating decisions through the bureaucracy. Under Bolton, there are fewer meetings, less collaboration; he often disappears into his office to immerse himself in documents. “H.R.’s door was always open—Bolton’s is closed,” a former national-security official told me. “He reads the memos. There just isn’t a lot of feedback.” Some former officials believe that Bolton’s insularity could be dangerous, particularly in a crisis, when various arms of the government and the military have to mount a quick and coördinated response. “It’s chaos under Bolton,” the former senior national-security official told me. “The national-security adviser is supposed to facilitate the President’s directives and coördinate national policy among the various government agencies. That process has completely broken down.” The official added, “Bolton hasn’t set any priorities. No one knows what the policies are—what’s important, what’s less important. The head is not connected to the body.” Principals’ meetings—crucial gatherings involving the President, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the heads of intelligence agencies—have become rare. “I don’t remember the last time there was a fucking principals’ meeting,” the official said.

When I raised the issue with Bolton, he seemed unconcerned. He pointed to an oil painting on his office wall which depicted George H. W. Bush with a small group of close aides, including Brent Scowcroft, his national-security adviser. “That’s decision-making,” he said.

.. The comparison to the first Bush Administration doesn’t go far. Scowcroft and Bush were temperamentally similar—both reflective, cautious members of the establishment. Trump is restless and impulsive; Bolton, who goes to bed at nine-thirty every night and rises at three-thirty in the morning, is known for his lawyerly focus. Scowcroft and Bush were close friends before they began working together; Trump and Bolton were only vaguely acquainted. As national-security adviser, Bolton has unrivalled proximity to the Commander-in-Chief. But he described their relationship as businesslike. “I don’t socialize with the President, I don’t play golf with him—I see him in the morning and I talk to him at night,” he told me. In addition to giving Trump a rundown of potential national threats each morning, Bolton attends the President’s Daily Brief, a top-secret meeting with Gina Haspel, the head of the C.I.A., and Dan Coats, the director of National Intelligence. Trump prefers to hold these meetings just two or three times a week, and is famously susceptible to distractions—people walking into the office, telephone calls, even houseflies. Aides have found that detailed briefings provoke impatience; graphics and bullet points work better, and relatable photographs better still. “Bolton gets to the point very fast,” a senior Administration official told me. “He’s very brief, and the President appreciates that.” Groombridge, the former aide, said, “John is thinking, To the extent I can modify or mollify the President’s actions, I will. He is truly a patriot. But I wonder how he goes into work every day, because deep in his heart he believes the President is a moron.”

Trump’s foreign policy, to the extent that he has one, tends toward isolationism, while Bolton’s is expansive but heavily unilateral, spurning allies when necessary. At times, though, unilateralism can sound a lot like America First. Both Bolton and Trump are dismissive of the international architecture of treaties and alliances, which was largely constructed by the United States following the Second World War. At the 2018 G-20 summit, in Buenos Aires, a gathering of the world’s largest economies, Bolton instigated a confrontation over the communiqué that announced the meeting’s results. As the document was being drafted, according to an American official who was present, one of Bolton’s aides began taking out phrases—“gender equality,” “multilateral institutions,” “rules-based international order.” The official told me, “He would point to a phrase and say, ‘This won’t pass the Bolton test.’ ” Bolton’s unilateralist approach permeates the N.S.C. “ ‘The post-World War Two rules-based global order’?” a Bolton staffer said to me. “What does that mean?”

Most national-security advisers work behind the scenes. Bolton has been unusually visible, travelling to Moscow to meet the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov; to Jerusalem to meet Netanyahu; and to Ankara to meet the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. On Twitter, he has admonished the Russians for attempting to project influence in Latin America, and expressed gratitude to Ivanka Trump for “supporting women’s economic empowerment” in Africa. The Western diplomat told me that Bolton differed from other White House advisers, such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who reflexively agree with the President. “Pompeo is really interested not in foreign policy but in what is good for Trump. When you are out of the Trump field, he has nothing to say,” the diplomat told me. “When you meet Bolton, it’s a real conversation on any issue, no matter how obscure.”

The former senior national-security official told me, “Trump feels aligned with Bolton. He talks tough—he’s a hawk. Trump likes that.” Still, it’s not clear how much influence Bolton—or any senior adviser—has over the President.

In April, 2018, during Bolton’s first week in office, Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria dropped chemical weapons—probably chlorine gas—into a densely populated suburb of Damascus. The gas caused agonizing deaths for at least forty-nine people and sickened at least six hundred and fifty others, many of them women and children. The previous year, Trump had responded to a similar attack by ordering a strike, in which fifty-nine missiles were fired at a government airbase. This time, when Bolton asked the Pentagon for options, Mattis gave only one, a limited strike with cruise missiles. Bolton was furious, a person familiar with his thinking told me: “Mattis is an obstructionist. He seemed to forget that it was the President who was elected.” After some modifications, Trump authorized the attack. But Bolton wanted more; he believed that the U.S. needed a more enduring military presence in Syria.

.. When McMaster was the national-security adviser, he had carefully limited the scope of the mission in Syria, maintaining a deployment of some two thousand troops, dispatched by Obama in 2014. Their orders were to kill isis fighters and to train local soldiers, but not to fight Assad’s government, his Iranian and Russian backers, or their proxies in Hezbollah, the Lebanese armed group and political party. An adviser on Middle East issues told me that senior officials at the Pentagon and in national security had regarded the deployment as highly successful. “We were trying to follow the President’s guidance that this force was there to destroy isis, and that’s it,” the adviser said.

Last summer, at a meeting with officials involved in Syria, Bolton announced that the mission was being expanded. According to the adviser on Middle East issues, who attended the meeting, Bolton told the group, “I don’t care about Syria, but I do care about Iran.” He said that the American forces would stay in Syria until the Iranians left—potentially for years. Bolton told his aides to communicate the new policy to the Russians, and he declared it publicly in September, 2018.

Trump had been suggesting for months that the mission in Syria was nearly concluded. “We were very successful against isis,” he told a group of Eastern European leaders that April. “We’ll be successful against anybody militarily. But sometimes it’s time to come back home.” Now he was saddled with an open-ended military commitment, of a kind that he had repeatedly vowed to avoid. Bolton told me that he had secured the President’s permission to expand the mission, but the adviser on Middle East issues disagreed: “What’s obvious is that Bolton does not speak for the President.”

In December, Erdoğan, the Turkish leader, offered Trump a way out. During a phone call with the President, he said that his troops could take over the job of securing Syria, leaving American forces free to go home. Turkey had its own interest in this arrangement: a large swath of territory near the Syrian border is controlled by ethnic Kurds, whom the Turks consider mortal enemies. The U.S. considers the Kurds allies, but Trump nevertheless leaped at the offer. “Erdoğan told the President that he could kill the terrorists in northeastern Syria, and the President said, ‘Fine, O.K., you do it,’ ” the source familiar with Bolton’s thinking told me.

The White House announced the withdrawal of American forces shortly after Trump hung up, sending a wave of concern through the Middle East. These troops, even with a limited mission, had served as a counterweight to the various armed groups that are active in Syria—Turks, Russians, the remaining isis loyalists, Assad’s soldiers. They also helped give the U.S. leverage in determining whether Assad’s regime remained in power after the war. “I think they are drinking champagne in Damascus,” the former senior Administration official told me.

To Bolton and others, it was clear that Turkey took the announcement as a green light to send troops into northeastern Syria. “For Erdoğan, that meant killing our Kurdish allies there,” the source familiar with Bolton’s thinking said. He suggested that Erdoğan and Trump had simply misunderstood each other: “They were two ships passing in the night.” After conversations with aides, Trump reconsidered, the source said: “The President has spoken to Erdoğan several times since then, and he has made clear to him, ‘Don’t come across, don’t kill Kurds.’ ”

Trump has recently expressed willingness to leave a small American force in Syria, but its exact size has not been settled; officials say that it may be as few as two hundred troops. “They are making it up as they go along,” a Senate staffer who works on national-security issues told me. When I first spoke to Bolton about the reduction in forces, he seemed disappointed. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” he said. A few weeks later, though, he was more cheerful as he outlined an ambitious roster of operations that appeared to mirror the one the President had tried to scale back: restraining the Iranians, limiting the Russians’ territory, keeping the Turks away from the Kurds. The adviser on Middle East issues suggested that Bolton was responsible for the entire affair, because he’d tried to push the President too far. “It’s a catastrophe, and I blame Bolton,” he said.

In July, 2017, after Kim Jong Un test-fired a new missile, Trump posted an arch tweet: “Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?” But, that summer, there was evidence that the White House was concerned. As the regime launched a series of ballistic-missile tests, Trump ordered the Pentagon to begin removing the spouses and children of military personnel from South Korea. (“Mattis just ignored it,” the Administration official told me.) Since then, Trump has alternated between belligerent tweets and attempts to find a diplomatic solution. At the summit in Hanoi, he was seeking “the big deal”—the denuclearization of the country at one stroke.

Shortly before joining the White House, Bolton described a grimly constrained set of options, which seemed to preclude diplomacy. “You’re getting down fairly quickly to a binary choice: live with a North Korea with nuclear weapons, or look at military force,” he said. “These are not attractive options, but that’s where we’re headed.”

In fact, Bolton has believed for decades that these are the only two choices. In the early two-thousands, as the Bush Administration was negotiating to limit North Korea’s nuclear program, Bolton stridently advocated war. Wilkerson, Powell’s chief of staff, was so concerned that he brought Bolton into a private meeting on the consequences of military strikes: “I gave him a ten-minute brief on what a war with North Korea would look like—a hundred thousand casualties in the first thirty days, many of them Americans. The Japanese that would die. The Chinese that would die. The fact that Seoul, one of the most modern and forward-looking cities in the world, would probably be reduced to the Dark Ages. I told him, ‘That’s Passchendaele, John. That’s Ypres.’ ”

He said that Bolton was unmoved: “John looked at me and said, ‘Are you done? Clearly, you do war. I don’t do war. I do policy.’ ”

Bolton’s skepticism about negotiating with North Korea has largely been confirmed; several successive Administrations have failed to talk the regime into giving up its nuclear program. Now that the problem has fallen to the Trump Administration, though, Bolton is in the same position as the officials he’s been deriding for twenty-five years. The failure of the talks in Hanoi means that the North Korean regime can work toward a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States. “They haven’t demonstrated that capacity yet,” the Administration official said. But even a medium-range weapon would pose a threat to much of Asia.

The Administration official, like others, was reluctant to speak about what might happen if North Korea does not back down. A strike to destroy the country’s nuclear capability would have catastrophic effects throughout the region. Even if the United States could cripple North Korea’s nuclear facilities, it could not eliminate its conventional weapons quickly enough to prevent them from being used. These include thousands of artillery pieces and mortars near the border with South Korea. Seoul, which has a population of ten million, including some two hundred thousand Americans, could suffer tens of thousands of casualties. In 2017, Mattis told reporters that a conflict on the Korean Peninsula would be “probably the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes.”

Even in the White House, there seems to be a growing realization that military force is not a realistic option. “I think we could have destroyed the North’s nuclear program in the nineteen-nineties—it was more concentrated, and we knew where everything was,” the Administration official told me. “Not anymore. It’s too big and too dispersed.”

But Bolton still believes that such a strike is possible, the source familiar with his thinking said: “We can still do it. We know where most, if not all, of their weapons are—we could destroy their nuclear capability. There are ways to deal with their artillery.” When I asked about potential casualties, he said that Bolton “wishes we weren’t at this point. But the military option remains viable.”

The primary negotiating tool that remains is economic sanctions. The senior Administration official told me that the fiscal pressure on North Korea is greater than ever. Kim, the official said, has repeatedly told the North Korean people that their years of suffering and hardship will finally end. “We think that he has raised expectations, and now he has to follow through,” he said.

Not long after the summit, Kim complained in a speech that the American team had come to Hanoi with “completely unrealizable plans.” Unless Trump changed his thinking, Kim said, “the U.S. will not be able to move us one iota even if they sat with us a hundred, a thousand times.” He added, however, that he was open to a third summit—extending an eighteen-month sequence of insults and meetings, during which the North Korean regime has continued to refine its weapons. In response, Trump described his relationship with Kim as “excellent.” In April, North Korea test-fired another missile.

Bolton was nonplussed by Kim’s test. “That was their way of giving us the little finger,” the source familiar with his thinking said. “Not the big finger—just a little one.” The big finger came a week later: Kim held a summit with Vladimir Putin to discuss the nuclear situation. Afterward, Putin called for a return to “international law, instead of the rule of the fist.”

People who have worked with Bolton say that he is focussed less on North Korea than on Iran, where his vigilance can sometimes seem out of proportion to the apparent threat. “There are only two countries that can really threaten the United States—China and Russia,” the former senior national-security official said. “But Bolton has had this anal focus on Iran for twenty years. I don’t know why.” When I asked Bolton about it, he said, “I care about Iran because I care about nuclear weapons.”

On February 11th, Bolton released a video on Twitter, in which he addressed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran. In a professorial tone, he noted that it was the fortieth anniversary of the Iranian Revolution and enumerated what he saw as its results: repression at home, terrorism abroad, a dismal economy, and the enmity of the world. “So, Ayatollah,” he said, “for all your boasts, for all your threats to the life of the American President, you are responsible for terrorizing your own people and terrorizing the world as a whole. I don’t think you’ll have many more anniversaries to enjoy.”

The Trump Administration has persistently spoken out against Iran, but it has also made scattershot efforts at diplomacy. A senior Iranian official told me that, in 2017, Trump sent eight requests to meet with the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani. “Trump invited President Rouhani to dinner!” the official told me. Rouhani evidently declined, but, a few weeks before Bolton posted his video on Twitter, there was another apparent attempt. Admiral Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s national-security council, told an Iranian news agency that a U.S. official had approached him, during a visit to Afghanistan, and “asked to hold talks.” Shamkhani didn’t say whether Iran had responded, but a Middle Eastern businessman told me that, around the same time, an Iranian official had asked him to pass a message to the White House.

Mattis served as a brake on confrontation. In late 2017, Iraq was preparing for parliamentary elections, and McMaster grew concerned about Iran’s efforts to influence the outcome. He asked the Pentagon to provide options to counter the Iranian campaign. As the elections approached, one of McMaster’s aides told me, a Pentagon official came to the White House. “I asked him what happened to the options,” the former aide said. “He told me, ‘We resisted those.’ You could feel everyone in the meeting go, ‘Excuse me?’ ”

During the Obama Administration, the sanctions on Iran were designed to force the regime to agree to limit its nuclear program. Under Trump, the goal is apparently to make the Iranian people so miserable that they will overthrow the government. “After all the experience we’ve had with regime change, I think we’re out of that business,” a senior member of Trump’s foreign-policy team told me. “We can collapse their economy—it’s not that difficult. But it’s up to the Iranian people.”

Bolton suggested that the policy was working. “The opposition to the regime has widened,” he said. “There have been riots. You don’t always read about this in the Western press, because they don’t let reporters see it.” Although the United States has withdrawn from the nuclear accord, the Iranian regime continues to adhere to it. Funding to Hezbollah, Iran’s primary foreign proxy, has been cut substantially. Nervousness about the future has frozen foreign investment. With inflation at nearly fifty per cent, and with one in four young Iranians out of work, the economy is under extreme stress. Iranian oil exports, which rose to 2.8 million barrels a day after sanctions were lifted, have been severely diminished, at times to less than a million barrels a day. It’s possible that the Iranian government will be ousted. But allies worry that the White House is squeezing the regime so hard that it might force a confrontation, perhaps a military one. “They’re not giving the Iranians any room,” the Western diplomat told me. “It’s implosion or surrender.”

Sadjadpour, the Iran expert, believes that the tensions inside the White House over Iran have not been resolved. “Trump doesn’t want to go to war—he doesn’t want to intervene anywhere,” he told me. Trump’s real goal, he suggested, was the pageantry of public negotiations. The main obstacle to direct talks is Khamenei, he said; having the United States as an enemy has been a linchpin of the regime’s self-justification. “Bolton’s worst nightmare is that Khamenei will write Trump a letter saying, ‘Why don’t we get together and talk?’ Because he knows that Trump would jump at that opportunity.”

In April, Bolton travelled to Coral Gables, Florida, to speak to the surviving members of Brigade 2506, a group of Cuban exiles who fought in the American-backed invasion at the Bay of Pigs. It was the fifty-eighth anniversary of the operation, which ended in catastrophe; the annual commemoration has become a kind of Miami Passion play.

As the aging veterans gathered for lunch, at the Biltmore Hotel, large screens played a documentary about the operation, with black-and-white footage of combat and interviews with survivors, many of whom still feel that they were betrayed by irresolute allies in the United States. “The invasion failed precisely because of President Kennedy’s order not to provide air support and to destroy the Cuban Air Force,” one veteran says.

As Bolton came to the lectern, the veterans, some of them in wheelchairs, gave him a hero’s welcome. Bolton announced new economic sanctions on the Cuban government and assailed Obama for attempting a rapprochement, which Trump has rolled back. “The Trump Administration will never, ever abandon you!” Bolton declared. “We will always have your back.”

As the crowd applauded, Bolton broadened his speech to attack other leftist governments—especially in Venezuela, where the regime of Nicolás Maduro is trying to ride out an economic collapse and a nationwide uprising. Bolton has led the White House’s charge against Maduro, accusing him of forming, along with Cuba and Nicaragua, a “troika of tyranny” in the Western Hemisphere. They aid one another, Bolton said, pointing to the Cuban security forces inside Venezuela, and all of them were aided by Obama. “In no uncertain terms, the Obama Administration’s policies toward Cuba have enabled the Cuban colonization of Venezuela,” he said.

For a national-security adviser, this was remarkably close to a campaign speech—a radical departure from the habits of Bolton’s predecessors. It was also a departure from Bolton’s habits; he resists being called a neocon, but in Venezuela he was trying to oust a regime that poses no immediate threat. When I asked him about it, in his office soon after the speech, he argued that Venezuela was dangerous, because it was allowing Russia to gain a foothold in the region. He said that there were twenty thousand Cubans in Venezuela who served as “surrogates for the Russians.” There were also at least a hundred Russian soldiers and mercenaries on the ground, helping Maduro stay in power. “To get the Russians out, you have to change the regime,” he said.

As the crowd applauded, Bolton broadened his speech to attack other leftist governments—especially in Venezuela, where the regime of Nicolás Maduro is trying to ride out an economic collapse and a nationwide uprising. Bolton has led the White House’s charge against Maduro, accusing him of forming, along with Cuba and Nicaragua, a “troika of tyranny” in the Western Hemisphere. They aid one another, Bolton said, pointing to the Cuban security forces inside Venezuela, and all of them were aided by Obama. “In no uncertain terms, the Obama Administration’s policies toward Cuba have enabled the Cuban colonization of Venezuela,” he said.

For a national-security adviser, this was remarkably close to a campaign speech—a radical departure from the habits of Bolton’s predecessors. It was also a departure from Bolton’s habits; he resists being called a neocon, but in Venezuela he was trying to oust a regime that poses no immediate threat. When I asked him about it, in his office soon after the speech, he argued that Venezuela was dangerous, because it was allowing Russia to gain a foothold in the region. He said that there were twenty thousand Cubans in Venezuela who served as “surrogates for the Russians.” There were also at least a hundred Russian soldiers and mercenaries on the ground, helping Maduro stay in power. “To get the Russians out, you have to change the regime,” he said.

The source familiar with Bolton’s thinking pointed out another incentive: Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world. “Who is in control of the oil fields—the United States or Russia?” he asked. “The President said he would have taken the oil in Iraq. Well, look at how much oil Venezuela has.”

With Trump’s national-security team depleted—no permanent Secretary of Defense, no Secretary of Homeland Security, no Ambassador to the United Nations—Bolton would have extraordinary latitude in a crisis. “John understands that you have to get the elected leader the approval of the audience that matters,” Hundt said. “As long as Trump’s base is still applauding, then Bolton can do whatever he wants.”

For Bolton, it is ultimately a question of sovereignty. “The Monroe Doctrine is alive and well,” he said. “It’s our hemisphere.” The doctrine, he noted, was a prohibition against outside powers interceding in Latin America. “That doesn’t mean armed force,” he said. “That’s the Roosevelt Corollary. I haven’t invoked that—yet.” But, he argued, as he has innumerable times in the past thirty years, “all options are on the table.” ♦

Is Something Neurologically Wrong With Donald Trump?

It is best not to diagnose the president from afar, which is why the federal government needs a system to evaluate him up close.

.. Is Something Neurologically Wrong With Donald Trump?

.. Viewers of Trump’s recent speeches have begun noticing minor abnormalities in his movements. In November, he used his free hand to steady a small Fiji bottle as he brought it to his mouth. Onlookers described the movement as “awkward” and made jokes about hand size. Some called out Trump for doing the exact thing he had mocked Senator Marco Rubio for during the presidential primary—conspicuously drinking water during a speech.

.. Then in December, speaking about his national-security plan in Washington, D.C., Trump reached under his podium and grabbed a glass with both hands. This time he kept them on the glass the entire time he drank, and as he put the glass down. This drew even more attention.

.. the alarming absence of a system to evaluate elected officials’ fitness for office—to reassure concerned citizens that the “leader of the free world” is not cognitively impaired, and on a path of continuous decline.

.. For most of America’s history, it was not possible for the commander in chief to unilaterally destroy a continent, or the entire planet, with one quick decision.

.. the country’s missileers—whose job is to sit in bunkers and await a signal—are tested three times per month on their ability to execute protocols. They are required to score at least 90 percent.

.. The lack of a system to evaluate presidential fitness only stands to become more consequential as the average age of leaders increases.

.. In 2016 the top three presidential candidates turned 69, 70, and 75. By the time of the 2021 inauguration, a President Joe Biden would be 78.

.. After age 40, the brain decreases in volume by about 5 percent every decade. The most noticeable loss is in the frontal lobes.

.. Even if the country’s psychiatrists were to make a unanimous statement regarding the president’s mental health, their words may be written off as partisan in today’s political environment

.. ould there be any way of convincing Americans that these doctors weren’t simply lying, treasonous “liberals”—globalist snowflakes who got triggered?

.. Instead of a traditional wheelchair, he used an inconspicuous dining chair with wheels attached. According to the FDR Presidential Library, “The Secret Service was assigned to purposely interfere with anyone who tried to snap a photo of FDR in a ‘disabled or weak’ state.”

.. America’s most famous Upper Manhattan gastroenterologist, whose initial doctor’s note described the 71-year-old Trump as “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

.. The phrasing was so peculiar for a medical record that some suggested that Trump had written or dictated the letter himself.

.. Trump was once a more articulate person who sometimes told stories that had beginnings, middles, and ends, whereas he now leaps from thought to thought.

.. He has come to rely on a small stable of adjectives, often involving superlatives.

An improbably high proportion of what he describes is either the greatest or the worst he’s ever seen; absolutely terrible or the best; tiny or huge.

.. Donald Trump’s fluency has regressed and his vocabulary contracted.

.. Compare that with the meandering, staccato bursts of today. From an interview with the Associated Press:

People want the border wall. My base definitely wants the border wall, my base really wants it—you’ve been to many of the rallies. Okay, the thing they want more than anything is the wall. My base, which is a big base; I think my base is 45 percent. You know, it’s funny. The Democrats, they have a big advantage in the Electoral College. Big, big, big advantage … The Electoral College is very difficult for a Republican to win, and I will tell you, the people want to see it. They want to see the wall.

.. If Trump’s limited and hyperbolic speech were simply a calculated political move—he repeated the phrase “no collusion” 16 times in the Times interview, which some pundits deemed an advertising technique—then we would also expect an occasional glimpse behind the curtain

.. these are the sorts of changes that appear in early stages of Alzheimer’s.

.. But it generally assumed that the president would be willing to undergo diagnostic testing and be forthcoming about any limitations.

This may not happen with a person who has come to be known for denying any hint of weakness or inability.

Nor would it happen if a president had a psychiatric disorder that impaired judgment—especially if it was one defined by grandiosity, obsession with status, and intense aversion to being perceived as weak.

.. John Gartner, told me last year that in his 35 years of practicing and teaching, “This is absolutely the worst case of malignant narcissism I’ve ever seen.”

.. A personality disorder is “only a disorder when it causes extreme distress, suffering, and impairment,”

.. A presidential-fitness committee—of the sort that Carter and others propose, consisting of nonpartisan medical and psychological experts—could exist in a capacity similar to the Congressional Budget Office. It could regularly assess the president’s neurologic status and give a battery of cognitive tests to assess judgment, recall, decision-making, attention

.. Acting on that information—or ignoring or disparaging it—would be up to the people and their elected officials.

Trust Nothing, Defend Nothing

The Democrats are clearly in full partisan mode, framing every inconvenient, benign, or even potentially exculpatory detail as a smoking gun. The whole “hacked the election” formulation, used both by the Democrats and by allegedly objective reporters, is a misleading bit of hyperbole. Is “meddled with” or “interfered in” too big a concession to reality?

.. Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of hyperbole among those most eager to defend Trump on the Russia story.

.. More seriously, the rush to say there’s nothing to the collusion story is a mirror of the rush to insist the story is everything.

.. There were no meetings with Russians. Well there was that meeting about adoption with that Russian lawyer (attended by the campaign manager). Well, it was a meeting about opposition research that turned into a meeting about adoption, but I had no idea the Russian government was involved. Then the NYT reports last night about an email saying the meeting was pitched as part of a Russian-government operation. Then this morning the Russian lawyer says it was the Trump team that was desperate for Clinton dirt.

.. But that’s my larger point. Who the hell knows? What I just don’t understand is how conservatives can mock, scoff at, and ridicule the idea there might be some legs to this story when Donald Trump does everything he can to make it look like there might be a there there. He fired the FBI director. He told the Russian ambassador he did it to thwart the Russia investigation. He told Lester Holt the same thing. Donald Trump is clearly obsessed with the Russia story and with forging a bromance with Vladimir Putin. Both his son and his son-in-law have ties to Russia and keep having to revise their denials, making anyone who believed them in the first place look foolish.