Bolton: Gore Didn’t Give Bush Access to Classified Materials Until After the Recount

Melanie Arter | November 11, 2020 | 2:45pm EST
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Former National Security adviser John Bolton (Photo by LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)
Former National Security adviser John Bolton (Photo by LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Former National Security Adviser John Bolton called it “delusional” Tuesday for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to say “there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” and the decision has “eviscerated” Pompeo’s credibility overseas. 

As reported, Pompeo was asked at a State Department briefing whether the State Department was preparing to engage with the Biden transition team, and if not, at what point does a delay hamper a smooth transition or pose a risk to national security.

“There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Pompeo deadpanned, then broke into a smile. “Right,” he continued. “We’re ready. The world is watching what’s taking place here. 

“We’re going to count all the votes, when the process is complete, there’ll be electors selected. There’s a process; the Constitution lays it out pretty clearly. The world should have every confidence that the transition necessary to make sure that the State Department is functional today, successful today, and successful with the president who’s in office on January 20th, a minute after noon, will also be successful,” he said.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said Pompeo’s comments are something you would hear in Russia.

In an interview with CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” on Tuesday, Bolton, who served as national security adviser for the Trump administration before being fired last year, suggested Pompeo’s comments may have been an attempt to “avoid being fired like others are being throughout the administration.”

“Well, I think it's delusional for Mike to say that, and I must say, I think he eviscerated his credibility internationally because I think there are very few people, even in the United States government who believe that is the case. I don't know why he had to have that briefing, and I don't know why he felt he needed to make that statement, maybe other than avoid being fired like others are being throughout the administration, but it's delusional,” Bolton said.

When asked whether he expected better from Pompeo, Bolton said, “Sadly, no, at this point. Look. He is running for president. The campaign for 2024 has already begun. Everybody is going to make his or her own campaign choices, and I think he just made his.”

Blitzer said Trump isn’t just “pouting about the results,” but he is preventing Biden from getting intelligence briefings and blocking the start of the formal transition. 

“At what point does this refusal to concede create potentially a national security threat?” Blitzer asked.

“I don't think we’re there at this moment, but, you know, this reflects a fundamental flaw in the presidential transition law, the idea that the administrator of GSA is going to make the decision to whom to give access to transition materials, and that’s going to need to be fixed next year,” Bolton said.

“More importantly, they are following the precedent that was set in the 2000 recount between Gore and Bush. Remember Gore, a sitting vice president at the time, then-Governor Bush, an outsider. My recollection, which may be inaccurate, is that the Bush transition team did not get access to transition facilities or to classified information or to a range of other things until after the Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore, and that’s the excuse being used now not to read Biden and others in,” he said.

“Look. I think that is two wrongs don't make a right. It was wrong in 2000 not to allow the Bush team at least the ability to prepare on national security issues for the transition and reasonable people ought to be able to work out a way here for the protection of the American people. Even if you say we still think Trump is going to win, you have to admit there is at least a possibility Biden might win,” Bolton said.

“It's no acknowledgment of the legitimacy of Biden's position in this race to say there are two candidates, one of them is going to be president. We need to make sure both of them are prepared on national security matters for sure, and honestly on the coronavirus pandemic, which is the major domestic issue we have,” he said.

“So a reasonable person in the Oval Office today would do that and would say this is no acknowledgment of the validity of Biden's position on who won this election and obviously no waiver of my position, but for the good of the American people, I'm going to allow this part of the transition to proceed. I don't think Trump will do that, but that is what a good president would do,” Bolton added.

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