Republican consultant and Donald Trump’s ex-National Security Advisor John Bolton warned on Thursday that trying his volatile former boss could backfire on Special Counsel Jack Smith and the Democrat Party, saying the decision to prosecute Trump constitutes a form of Russian roulette.
As we reported, Trump was arraigned at a federal courthouse, just blocks from the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, where he faced four felony charges related to his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, including his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot.
The criminal charges are conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, an attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against constitutional rights.
While a court date has not yet been set for a trial to begin, Bolton told CNN anchor Jake Tapper — who else? — that prosecuting Trump is risky, regardless of the outcome.
“I think it’s the right thing to do, but it is a modified form of Russian roulette,” Bolton said.
If Trump is convicted in one or both of the federal cases, I think that will turn things upside down. I think he could be denied the Republican nomination. He’d certainly lose the election, but if he is acquitted or a hung jury results, which I think would be understood by most people as being the equivalent of acquittal, I think he would get the Republican nomination, and he could quite possibly win the election on the back of that.
Somewhere between interesting and astonishing, only about half of Republicans wouldn’t vote for Trump if he were convicted of a felony, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll that closed on Thursday — which means that roughly half of GOP voters would. In addition, 52 percent said they wouldn’t vote for Trump if he were in prison on Election Day, which is again astonishing with respect that somewhere near 50 percent would still vote for an imprisoned Trump. Make of that what you will; I’ll sit this one out.
It should be noted — simply for context — that Bolton, like many other ex-Trump officials, was once viewed by Trump as among his highly-touted group of “only the best people” when he came into the administration, only to be referred to as “sick puppy,” “disgruntled boring fool,” and a “dope” after Trump kicked him to the curb — for the cardinal sin of daring to disagree with the boss.
The “risk is real,” Bolton said, that if Trump isn’t convicted, he will be even further emboldened than he has been after every indictment, with a fourth indictment likely on the horizon.
Bolton then hit the nail on the legal head.
His lawyers don’t have to prove anything. They simply have to induce reasonable doubt in the minds of one or more jurors to get a hung jury.
Moreover, Bolton warned:
If people think that he’s being railroaded; if they don’t believe the prosecution case or [if] they believe whatever case Trump puts on, and this results in a hung jury, in either of the two federal cases, I think we’re in for real trouble.
Trump has said the same thing, in more ominous terms, particularly if he’s sent to prison. During a July radio interview on “The Simon Conway Show,” the former president called it “dangerous” to even talk about Smith putting him in jail.
Conway asked the question:
Is it something that concerns you of the people making sure that they don’t go out of their right mind if something like that happens, if that, for example, they do say — Jack Smith says, ‘OK, I’m going to put Donald Trump in jail’?
Trump’s answer was a tad chilling, at best.
I think it’s a very dangerous thing to even talk about, because we do have a tremendously passionate group of voters, much more passion than they had in 2020 and much more passion than they had in 2016.
Not to misconnect the dots, but the question begs to be asked: Was Trump’s response just Trumpian braggadocio, a warning, or somewhere in between?
No one knows the answer, of course, but I will say anecdotally that I have several friends who are super-ardent Trump supporters, one of whom continues to warn: “If they slap the cuffs on Trump and take him to jail, it’s on.”
Bluster or bluff aside, the band plays on.