Singer Michael Bolton (left), former US National Security Advisor John Bolton (right).
Craig Sjodin, Win McNamee/Getty Images
In his new book, Rep. Adam Schiff recalls a House colleague mixing up a pair of notable Boltons.
“What do you think of Michael Bolton being named National Security Advisor?” a lawmaker asked Schiff.
Schiff said he would have preferred Michael Bolton to John Bolton, saying the latter had “no business” being national security advisor.
A member of the US House of Representatives mixed up former national security advisor John Bolton with the singer Michael Bolton, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California recounts in his new book.
“What do you think of Michael Bolton being named National Security Advisor?” the unnamed member asked Schiff, according to his book “Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could.”
“‘Well,’ I replied, ‘I think you mean John Bolton. Michael Bolton is a singer. But honestly, I would be better with Michael Bolton,'” Schiff writes.
Schiff builds up to recounting the episode by skewering Bolton over his record before becoming former President Donald Trump’s national security advisor in 2018.
Schiff writes that Bolton “had no business being National Security Advisor,” describing him as “bellicose, hotheaded, and obstinate, the last three qualities you want in someone who is supposed to mediate differences among national security cabinet members.”
“When Bolton had been appointed the previous year, I criticized him for trafficking in the most bizarre conspiracy theories on Fox in order to catch Trump’s attention,” Schiff continues. “He made the astounding suggestion that the Russian hack of the DNC in 2016 might not have been conducted by the Russians at all and could have been a ‘false flag’ operation by the Obama administration.”
A representative for Bolton did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
“After I called him out on the reckless propagation of this conspiracy theory, Bolton’s staff called my office day after day demanding a retraction,” Schiff writes later on. “For what, it wasn’t clear – we had the tape of his appearance on Fox and offered to send it to them.”
In the December 2016 Fox News appearance referenced by Schiff, Bolton used a conditional argument to insinuate that because the Russians left “fingerprints” in the hack, and because it couldn’t be disproven that the Obama administration wasn’t involved, then a “false flag” shouldn’t be off the table.
“It is not at all clear to me, just viewing this from the outside, that this hacking into the [Democratic National Committee] and the [Republican National Committee] computers was not a false flag,” Bolton said at the time, according to Politico.
Bolton later issued a statement attempting to clarify his comments.
“There are reports out that I said on Fox yesterday that I thought that the Obama administration had conducted the hack into the RNC and the DNC. It’s typical bad reporting,” Bolton said. “I’ve never believed that. I didn’t believe that yesterday. I don’t believe it today. What I do think the administration has done consistently for eight years is politicize intelligence.”
Schiff writes in the book that he found Bolton’s initial claim to be implausible.
“It took me a while to get my head around it,” Schiff writes, “but the idea was that Obama hacked his own party’s headquarters so that he could blame the Russians, and this would somehow help Hillary Clinton.”