John Bolton

Factsheet: John Bolton

Published on 27 Mar 2018

IMPACT: John Bolton was one of the individuals in the George W. Bush Administration who misled the United States about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, and who continues to advocate using force against Iran and North Korea. He has connections with leading anti-Muslim voices and organizations, including Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Frank Gaffney and David Horowitz. On March 22, 2018, President Donald Trump nominated Bolton as the next National Security Advisor.

John Bolton is a conservative American attorney, who served as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations (U.N.) as a recess appointee (August 2005-December 2006). Bolton has been dismissive of the U.N. The Economist called Bolton “the most controversial ambassador ever sent by America to the United Nations.”  

From 2001 to 2005, Bolton served as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs. Foreign Service veteran Greg Thielmann noted that Bolton “was a key player in the early machinations toward war” with Iraq during George W. Bush’s administration.

Bolton currently serves as the chairman of the Gatestone Institute. The Intercept investigative reporter Lee Fang notes that the Gatestone Institute, financed by Sears Roebuck heiress Nina Rosenwald, is “infamous for its role in publishing fake news and spreading hate about Muslims.” Lobelog describes Gatestone as a “right-wing activist group that has been accused of fomenting anti-Muslim sentiment.”

Bolton wrote the foreword to a 2013 book written by Pamela Geller with Robert Spencer, entitled The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America, described by journalist Eli Clifton as “a series of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about Obama and sweeping anti-Muslim statements,” including conspiratorial claims about “sharia law” and that Obama is an “undercover Muslim.”

Bolton delivered video remarks in September 2010 and September 2011 at anti-Muslim rallies organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI)/Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), organizations founded by Geller and Spencer.

In January 2018, Bolton spoke with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and advocated regime change in Iran, stating, “We need to bring that regime down and get something in there that would stand more aligned with us and less aligned with Russia and potentially China.”

Bolton is closely affiliated with Frank Gaffney, whom the Center for American Progress (CAP) has described as the leading “misinformation expert” in the “Islamophobia industry.” Gaffney heads the Center for Security Policy (CSP), an anti-Muslim think tank. Bolton was awarded CSP’s 2006 Freedom Flame Award..

Bolton has advocated designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. Critics argue that such a move seeks to criminalize, harass and intimidate American Muslim individuals and organizations.

In February 2018, Bolton spoke on a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) moderated by Raheem Kassam. Bolton stated that “we’re fighting a radical ideology that grows out of Islam” and that this “ideology detests Western civilization and America in particular.”

Between 2008-2016, the Mercer family gave $4 million to the John Bolton Super PAC, created to support “like-minded candidates.” Robert Mercer is a billionaire hedge-fund owner who supported the Trump campaign. Following Donald Trump’s election, Politico reported that Mercer’s daughter, Rebekah, pushed for Bolton’s nomination for Secretary of State.

The Bolton super PAC was also one of the “earliest customers of Cambridge Analytica,” a Mercer owned data company, now at the center of an investigation for allegedly harvesting and using the Facebook profiles of 50 million individuals without their knowledge. The Mercer family has supported and financed individuals and organizations known for their anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies.

Bolton has called for preemptive war with North Korea and Iran, and described the Iran nuclear deal as “an unprecedented act of surrender by the United States” and “an act of appeasement that will legitimize this regime of terrorists.”

In a March 2015 op-ed in the New York Times, Bolton advocated that the U.S. or Israel take “military action” against Iran, and prescribed “vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.”

According to reporting in USA Today and ThinkProgress, Bolton also “resisted efforts to investigate” and “helped cover up” the Iran-Contra scandal (1985-1987).

Last updated March 27, 2018