Interviews

Bolton: Leak of unverified dossier is gross misuse of info

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 12, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  All of this occurs -- and Gregg was giving you a bit of the backdrop there as well -- at a time when we're seeing all the intelligence agencies under a magnifying glass, including this latest stuff that has caused a dustup with the president-elect, that is, who knew what and when and who leaked this information that was supposedly so damaging to Donald Trump, when a lot of it might not even be true or wasn't adequately vetted?

Then you had James Clapper, the head of the National Intelligence Agency, phoning Donald Trump to say, wait a minute, I had nothing to do with it. Then who did?  And what's going on here?  

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton with us right now.  

Ambassador, it does have a feeling of sort of bureaucracies-wide confusion here.  What do you think?  

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS:  Well, I think it could well be confusion in some respects.  

But, obviously, this document that nobody believes has any authenticity, although occasional facts may coincidentally turn out to be true, was leaked to the press.  

CAVUTO:  Who do you think leaked it, John?  

BOLTON:  Well, I think it has to come from one of two places if it came from the government, the fact that the briefings took place with Trump and Obama, either from the intelligence community, someone in the intelligence community or the Obama White House.  And I do think there should be an investigation of it.  

This is a gross misuse of information that should be held confidential. Even though it's not an intelligence community product, the very fact of it being discussed, and I think legitimately so, that we know what character assassination efforts are going on in the broader world...  

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  Well, someone knew it.  To your point, someone knew it, right?

I'm thinking a few days ago, when Chuck Schumer had kind of like, it wasn't even a veiled warning or even a veiled threat.  It was just a reminder to Donald Trump you really shouldn't be trashing our intelligence agencies.  

And then, lo and behold, we get these developments.  It does make you wonder what did he know then or what became available to him then, especially when you don't know the source.  But something weird is going on.  

BOLTON:  Well, now also we have got left-wing columnists talking about the deep state and plots against Trump.  

I think we all need to take a deep breath here.  Laurence Silberman, one of the great elder statesmen of the Republican Party, now a senior federal court of appeals judge, once said, in the federal government, 99 percent of all conspiracies turn out to be simple screw-ups.  

And I think that's important to keep in mind.  I don't doubt that this looks like a deliberate leak.  That would be my instinct. But that doesn't mean it's part of some huge conspiracy.  

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  But you don't think intelligence agencies -- now, of course, everything changes when a new bunch of leadership in the intelligence community is coming in, and likely approved, so that they can be ready to go for the new president -- would act counter to the president?  

In other words, let's say there was intelligence that he sort of was not accepting on Russia's role in hacking the election.  No one ever said it affected the outcome.  It was kind of intimated by some of his opponents. But that was never proven, never charged.  

But now he's got to work with those same agencies.  Are you envisioning any of the trouble that Chuck Schumer was alluding to?  

BOLTON:  Well, I don't think anybody should be under any illusions that there are elements of the intelligence community, as there are cultures in a lot of departments of government that I think are fundamentally hostile to the Trump world view.  

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  Well, would they be so small to say, look, he called into question our intelligence, quite literally, and now we're going to go back at him?  

BOLTON:  Well, look, I think it's possible some people could have done that.  I do.

CAVUTO:  Really?

BOLTON:  And I do think it warrants an investigation.  

All I'm saying is, let's not get into the realm of fiction and think that somehow this is 1,000-person conspiracy.  I think it could also have come from the Obama White House or political figures in the administration. This administration has gone a long way to politicize the intelligence community.  

I think that's a terrible damage to our intelligence-gathering capability and credibility.  And I think people like Dan Coats and Mike Pompeo, when they get confirmed as director of national intelligence and head of the CIA, respectively, really have a huge job to do.  

And this latest flap has just made it incredibly more difficult for them.  

CAVUTO:  You mentioned Congressman Pompeo, again, Donald Trump's pick to be the CIA director.  He was asked about these leaks and had this to say about them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MIKE POMPEO, R-KANSAS:  There are a number of very serious things that have taken place.

The leaks that occurred as well, I consider to be intensely serious too. And I think Director Clapper's statement from last night or this morning about his concern about these leaks is worthy as well.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO:  And they continue.  What do we do?  

BOLTON:  Well, I think it's very important for Dan Coats and Mike Pompeo to jump on this immediately.

Right now, when the new administration comes in, as the saying goes, the dead cat is not on their doorstep yet.  But if this drags on, then I think it's going on get harder and harder.  So, I think there's an immediate need to repair this damage, to try and restore credibility to the intelligence community, but, longer term, to purge it of the politicization that we have seen over the last eight years.  

CAVUTO:  While I have you, Ambassador, it was interesting, because some of these guys' territories overlap, and their views on national security issues and the rest overlap as well.  

But I found one thing that was interesting about Mr. Tillerson yesterday, in looking at Vladimir Putin, is that he had an open mind in dealing with him.  He would not take some of the bait that was thrown at him by Marco Rubio as to whether he would identify Vladimir Putin as a war criminal, what have you.  

But he did talk about how we might avoid the problems we had in the past, especially given our response to the Russians' invasion of Crimea and then-- and how we prevent it spreading out throughout the Ukraine, and said something about amassing troops, working with NATO, the troops on the border, to send a strong signal to the Russians, because we had refused to do that.  And so they're emboldened by that and want more and more and more.  

Some have interpreted, I was noticing in some of the press reaction to his comments that he would be gunning for war, no pun intended here, but that he would be very provocative.  

What do you make of that?  

BOLTON:  Well, no, I don't think those actions with respect to the Ukraine would have been provocative at all.  

In fact, I think the fact of the weakness of the American and European response to what Putin was doing in Ukraine was an encouragement to the Russians.  It was a sense that they could go further, that they could take control of the Crimea, that they could keep Russian forces in the Donbass region of Eastern Ukraine.  

And I worry that it encourages them they can do other things as well. Look, the problem with Putin is, when he follows his vision of Russian national interest and it conflicts with ours, as it does again and again.  

But I would say this as well.  It's not enough to say, maybe we can find a deal with them.  Russian cheating and prevarication on arms control agreements over four or five decades is close to a record.  So, they can agree to a lot of things, but that doesn't necessarily guarantee Russian performance up to the commitments they have made in the deal.  

CAVUTO:  John Bolton, always a pleasure.  Thanks for ping-ponging here with me.  I wanted to get as many subjects in with you as I could.  I appreciate it.

BOLTON:  Thank you, Neil.  

CAVUTO:  All right.  

END

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