Donald Trump’s former national security adviser has warned the president “will not leave graciously if he loses” in his re-election bid against Joe Biden, saying in a new interview: “Whether he carries it to the extreme, I don’t think we know.”
John Bolton, who served as national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019, told CNN’s Jake Tapper another four years of a Trump presidency could cause “irreparable injury” to the nation — while suggesting the president was preparing to contest the results of the November vote, should Mr Biden secure a victory.
“Let’s be clear: Trump will not leave graciously if he loses,” Mr Bolton said, adding: “He will not leave graciously.”
The former national security adviser said the president’s recent comments and unfounded claims about mail-in voter fraud were “very troubling,” telling the network: “Whether he carries it to the extreme, I don’t think we know.”
Mr Bolton, a longtime conservative who has worked in previous administrations, told CNN he does not intend to vote for Mr Trump or Mr Biden.
“It is very troubling that he has said, ‘I can’t lose unless there’s fraud,’” Mr Bolton said. “Of course, he can lose in an honest election. And I think this is really on the leadership of the Republican Party, elected officials, private citizens. If it is clear what the outcome is, it is up to Republicans, not Democrats, to say, ‘This is on us. He has to go.'”
Mr Trump has stirred controversy in recent weeks while refusing to commit to a peaceful transition of power when asked on numerous occasions, despite it being a bedrock of American society and politics.
The president has told reporters “we’re going to have to see what happens” when asked about giving up his power while continuing to promote his unfounded claims and conspiracy theories surrounding mail-in voting, as states across the country expand voting options due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“You know that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster," Mr Trump said a press briefing last month while seemingly referring to mail-in ballots.
Asked whether or not he had faith in top Republicans to stand up to the president were he to refute a potential electoral defeat, Mr Bolton said: “I’ve been in touch with a lot of Republican elected officials and a lot of others over the past several months, I think they’re ready for this moment.”
He added: “I think they can see the president trying to sow confusion and chaos, which is his natural best operating environment.”