Republican party must ‘cleanse itself’ of Donald Trump’s damage, says John Bolton

John Bolton with Donal Trump in 2018 - NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP
John Bolton with Donal Trump in 2018 - NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP

The Republican Party should “cleanse itself” of Donald Trump, a potential presidential candidate has said, as there are “no limits on what he’s capable of doing”.

John Bolton said Mr Trump’s administration had “damaged” the US and warned of the “danger” should he be successful in the 2024 general election.

Speaking exclusively to The Telegraph, Mr Bolton, who served as national security adviser for a period of Donald Trump’s presidency, said: “Trump has literally no limits on what he’s capable of doing and I think we need to be very worried about that.

“The Republican Party has to cleanse itself of the damage Trump has done to it.

“This is really our responsibility. It’s not going to come from the liberal media. It’s not going to come from the Democrats. Republicans have to do this. And this is the moment we need to rise to.”

Possible presidential run

He said he did not want to see Mr Trump win the Republican candidacy for the presidential election “not just for the good of the Republican Party, but for the good of the country”.

Mr Bolton said he was “still in the consideration stage” regarding a possible presidential run himself.

“I’m not going to run unless I think I’ve got a chance to win,” he said.

“It’s a very serious decision but I think the danger of a Trump nomination needs to call forth extra effort from all of us. That’s what I’m looking at.”

He feared a situation whereby Mr Trump was arrested but not convicted over alleged hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels in order to cover up an affair, warning it could be used by the former president’s sense of victimhood to appeal to his base support.

“From the Democrats’s point of view, they’d rather run against Trump than almost anybody else,” Mr Bolton said. “That’s not to say they would win [and] they may well be overconfident.

“I think it’s legitimate to worry that if Trump is indicted, whether it’s on the Stormy Daniels matter or any other criminal investigations ongoing, if he’s indicted but not convicted, that will be rocket fuel to his campaign.”

John Bolton - JIM YOUNG/Reuters
John Bolton - JIM YOUNG/Reuters

Mr Bolton, who served as US ambassador to the United Nations in George W Bush’s administration, said the “gridlock” of the Cold War had returned, with issues increasingly breaking among the permanent members of the Security Council with Russia and China on one side and the US, UK and France on the other.

As a consequence, the world body is no longer relevant, Mr Bolton warned.

“The political decision-making bodies of the UN are broken and have been for some time,” he told The Telegraph. “In particular, the Security Council is broken.”

“We had gridlock during the Cold War when the Security Council was mostly irrelevant. I think we’re in the same kind of period [now].

“The idea of the UN as…an answer to threats to peace and security has been clearly answered in the negative.”

A long time believer in the power of the state and the need for strong military forces, Mr Bolton derided the Russian military as being “less than menacing” in Ukraine. However, he said Nato and the West should have taken firmer action sooner.

“Ukraine is a vital interest for the United States; peace and security in Europe is a vital American interest.

“So when part of it is threatened in Ukraine, even though it’s not a Nato member, other Nato members are affected.

“I don’t think president Biden did much to try and deter Russia. He said on a number of occasions that he didn’t think we could deter Russia.

“That's flatly wrong.”