John Bolton discusses Trump doctrine, decision to resign in part 2 of his interview with Bret Baier

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 23, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Bret Baier coming to you tonight from the historic Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington where in just a few minutes I will speak with Ambassador John Bolton. The obviously former National Security Adviser and the author of the new book The Room Where It Happened. This, the publication day after a fight from Trump administration to stop that publication. I'll talk to Ambassador Bolton about the book, the controversy around it, and the pushback now since it's coming out.

But first, here's a look at some other headlines today. Breaking tonight, the FBI says the object fashioned like a noose found in the stall of NASCAR's only African-American driver Bubba Wallace had been there since at least last October. NASCAR says it was a garage door pull rope.

Federal authorities say, since it had been there for months, there was no way anyone could have known the stall would be assigned to Wallace just this past week.

A private funeral was held today in Atlanta for Rayshard Brooks, the African-American man killed by a white police officer while resisting arrest. The now-former officer is facing a felony murder charge.

The head of the Minneapolis police union says he thinks his members are being scapegoated for an incompetent department leadership. Union leaders acknowledging video of the police encounter with George Floyd was horrific but they say they have been denied the chance to look at body camera video that they said may shed more light on what happened.

A European diplomat says the European Union may initially exclude Americans from visiting E.U. countries as it reopens to international travelers this summer. Officials say they have made no final decision at Americans' ability to enter the E.U. will depend on coronavirus conditions in the U.S.

And voters are going to the polls in primary elections in Kentucky and New York today. Longtime Democrat Congressman Eliot Engel is facing a serious challenge in New York and Kentucky Democrats must choose between Amy McGrath and Charles Booker for a spot on the November ballot against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Also today, former President Obama participated in a virtual fundraiser with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

And finally, Major League Baseball is working toward the start of its truncated season in late July. Commissioner Rob Manfred imposed his plan for a 60-game season today.

The players must still sign off on health and safety protocols. They retain the right to file a grievance which could be worth millions of dollars.

As the general public gets its first look at Ambassador Bolton's book, President Trump is focusing on other things. An issue he campaigned heavily on in 2016, border security.

The president traveling to Arizona visiting a Customs and Border Protection office and stopping by the 212-mile of the border wall before heading to Phoenix.

Correspondent Kristin Fisher has the latest on this trip live from the North Lawn of the White House. Good evening, Kristin.

KRISTIN FISHER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Bret. From a new executive order freezing visas for foreign workers to a trip to the border in battleground Arizona, President Trump is taking his signature issue from 2016 and putting it right back into the spotlight.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's the most powerful and comprehensive border wall structure anywhere in the world.

FISHER: President Trump marking a milestone in his campaign promise from four years ago, the completion of more than 200 miles of his border wall.

MARK MORGAN, ACTING COMMISSIONER, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: The 220 miles of wall system we have in right now are 220 new miles of wall system that gives us an enhanced capability that we never had.

FISHER: The acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection says they're on pace to complete about 500 miles by the end of the year.

On top of that, the president says the number of illegal border crossings is down 84 percent from this time last year and illegal crossings from Central America are down 97 percent.

TRUMP: 97 percent, I would say sounds pretty good. You sure it's 97, right?


FISHER: But former Vice President Joe Biden says, today's trip to the border is nothing more than, quote, a distraction from Donald Trump's failed response to combat the spread of COVID-19. Biden also called the president's evening rally in Phoenix, reckless and irresponsible.

The city's mayor has imposed a mandatory mask order after a spike in coronavirus cases. But most of the people packed inside the church for the students for Trump convention we're not wearing one.

As President Trump left the White House for Arizona, he was asked again if he was kidding when he said that he'd asked his administration to slow down testing for COVID-19.

Yesterday, the White House Press Secretary said he was joking. But today, the president said:

TRUMP: I don't kid.

FISHER: Still, Dr. Anthony Fauci testified today that kidding or not, testing in the United States is only ramping up.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: I know for sure that to my knowledge none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing. That just is a fact. In fact, we will be doing more testing.

FISHER: On the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, cleanup in Lafayette Square continues after protesters used ropes to try to pull down a statue of former President Andrew Jackson.

TRUMP: It was a sneak attack.

FISHER: President Trump is now threatening to use the Veterans' Memorial Preservation Act to send anyone who tries to destroy a historical statue like this one to prison for up to 10 years.

TRUMP: We are looking at long term jail sentences for these vandals and these hoodlums and these anarchists and agitators.


FISHER: And President Trump is also threatening to sign an executive order to reinforce that law. Unclear exactly what that executive order would do but it's certainly something for destructive protesters to think about before possibly heading back to Lafayette Square tonight, Bret.

BAIER: Kristin, thank you.

Joining us now Ambassador John Bolton. Ambassador, thanks for being here.


BAIER: I understand you have a book out.

BOLTON: Indeed.

BAIER: I want to talk to you a little about the process. First, some of the pushback, and then I want to get to the substance. Obviously, I've seen the interviews you've given. I have read the book in detail.

BOLTON: Thank you.

BAIER: It is very detailed, 500 pages of your time inside the room as you say in The Room Where It Happened. How did you write this book?

I saw in an interview that you said that the notes -- you took lots of notes. The notes, as I said in my exit interview from the White House were destroyed during the course of my tenure there.

So, how do you go back and fill in all of these blanks with that detail, these quotes, 500 pages?

BOLTON: Well, this is the best recollection I can put together. I'm blessed with a pretty good memory and I thought about how to do this. I wrote a book when I left the George W. Bush administration called Surrender Is Not An Option, went through much the same process.

BAIER: When were the notes destroyed?

BOLTON: During the course of the usually the weekend following when they were taken throughout the thing, put in burn bags, that sort of thing. But no notes were taken with me after I left the White House.

BAIER: The White House says they didn't destroy it, so you destroyed them.

BOLTON: That's correct, sure.

BAIER: If you destroyed them it would be a violation of the Presidential Records Act.

BOLTON: No, during the course of the work, this was -- this was something we were -- we had burn bags in our offices and put -- I don't know how many documents into the burn bags.

BAIER: Once you destroyed them, is that a problem legally for you because you destroyed records that are supposed to be kept?

BOLTON: No, I don't think these are records that are supposed to be kept, and they were not and many other people followed the same pattern.

BAIER: When did you decide to write the book?

BOLTON: Well, during the course of being in the administration, I had gone in as a life-long conservative Republican hoping that we would have a conservative Republican administration, and it didn't turn out that way.

But I guess I should say also, I'm certainly not the first person in the Trump administration to write a book. Sean Spicer's written a book, Sarah Sanders has written a book, others have written books.

BAIER: Sure, not like this one.

BOLTON: This one could be -- could be seen as critical as opposed to the others which are seen as favorable to the president.

BAIER: Yes. And obviously, it's at the center of another thing which is the impeachment, I'll get to that in a minute. But you took this job as National Security Adviser under the trust of the president that those conversations were going to happen inside the White House.

Fred Fleitz, your former Chief of Staff of National Security Council said this:


FRED FLEITZ, FORMER JOHN BOLTON CHIEF OF STAFF, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: I don't believe a National Security Advisor should be revealing internal candid discussions with the president. The president has to be able to know that whatever he says in those discussions won't be made public.

And if he thinks they're going to be made public, a president won't consult with experts, and I think that's a very dangerous prospect for our national security.


BAIER: How do you respond to that?

BOLTON: Well, I don't see it that way at all. In fact, I addressed this precise question in a book review I wrote in 2014 about Bob Gates' memoir of his time as Secretary of Defense in the Bush and Obama administrations.

And he published his memoir during the Obama administration, was criticized for that, was criticized for its potential effect on Hilary Clinton's presidential run, his former colleague when she was Secretary of State.

And I made the point then that everybody in Washington is an adult in this process. We understand exactly the way it goes. My feeling and basically all of my government jobs from lower levels up to the last job was that anything I said could and quite possibly would be in the papers this -- the next morning. And this is nothing new in American history, as I point out.

In Washington's administration, Hamilton and Jefferson fought with each other through newspapers funded in part by putting their writers on government salaries. And somehow, poor George Washington managed to stumble through it.

BAIER: Some of those pictures of you in the back of meetings adjusting your glasses, holding notes, look like in your mind you're arranging chapters of the book.

At what time in the 17 months did you say, I got to start really thinking about this? And without detailed notes, were you going to be able to do it? I mean, you left in September and your deadline was what? The fall?

BOLTON: Well, you know, I did something very similar as I say when I left the Bush administration and that's the same pattern I followed here.

BAIER: Couple of things on the pushback, Sarah Sanders this morning said this:


SARAH SANDERS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: John Bolton was your classic case of someone who was completely drunk on power who thought he was the president. He was constantly pushing his own agenda which was all he cared about.

The big problem for John Bolton is that's not how it works. He forgot that no one elected him to anything. And that it was President Trump and President Trump's agenda that mattered within the White House.


BAIER: Thoughts?

BOLTON: Well, she's just flatly wrong on that. I think the duty of loyalty that a senior official oath is to the constitution and people of the United States. We're not a feudal society, this is not the middle ages. We don't owe loyalty to an individual, particularly an individual who routinely undercuts his own advisors in conversations with other people.

The president has talked about almost everything in this book at one level or another and often simply not told the truth.

So, if the deal is the president gets to say whatever he wants and the American people don't get to hear the truth, is that the kind of society you want?

BAIER: Well, on the flip side, you have House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying you chose profit over patriotism. And here's what Adam Schiff said about all of this:


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): And what John Bolton has demonstrated and I think to the length and degree that he indicts Donald Trump, he also indicts himself for cowardice and for greed. Because there were people who did come forward, people like Colonel Vindman and Fiona Hill who risked their careers. And he lacked to that basic courage and patriotism. It was only the greed that made him come forward in this book.


BAIER: So you say it's about the constitution and supporting the American people, Democrats would say why didn't you step up back then?

BOLTON: The Democrats have a lot of reason to be concerned I think because as I lay out in the book, their impeachment strategy was catastrophically wrong. I characterize what they did as impeachment malpractice.

They were driven by their own political objectives to go after Trump as fast as they could, as narrow as they could because they were concerned about messing up their own presidential nomination schedule. That's almost what they said about Donald Trump in Ukraine, misusing the power of government for his own political purposes.

The reality of history is and Watergate demonstrates this beyond debate, in my view, the only way you have a real chance at impeachment and conviction is through a bipartisan process.

If you look at the Watergate committee, Sam Ervin, Democrat chairing at Howard Baker ranking Republican, they didn't start out with the objective to impeach Richard Nixon. But they uncovered evidence, they went through a lengthy process, they had court fights and they built a growing consensus in Congress that Nixon had to go.

The first senator to call for Nixon to resign was Jim Buckley, conservative of New York. And eventually, it was a group of Republican senators that went to the White House and said Mr. President, you have to resign.

The Democrats took exactly the opposite approach, they pushed Republicans into a partisan corner in the House, they basically accomplished the same thing in the Senate. It's no -- it's no wonder they're upset.

BAIER: But you say in this book that they could have impeached on a number of different fronts. They were other impeachable offense as you write in the book. You also told Susan Page with USA Today that if you were a senator voting, you would have voted to convict but there was more that you needed to know about Ukraine, and it might not be impeachable.

Don't you feel some responsibility now that you're saying he should have been impeached for -- on other things, but you never piped up?

BOLTON: I'm not saying he should have been impeached, I'm saying there's a lot of reprehensible conduct, not all of which is impeachable. But the fact was the Democrats were pursuing a strategy that was clearly going right into a ditch. And they had opportunities to try and correct the course. They didn't -- they never issued me a subpoena, this is -- this is something that I think a lot of people don't understand, they never issued me a subpoena. And they did to everybody else who testified.

I think its evidence that they were pursuing a very partisan course of action that was their choice, I think it was a mistake. I don't have any obligation to help the Democrats drive into a ditch. My thought was it may not take a village, but at least it takes a book to explain what actually happened, that I saw, that I could attest to personally.

BAIER: But you were going to fight it? You were enjoying a Kupperman lawsuit, and you were going to fight that until the Senate Republicans, you said, would have a choice whether to subpoena you or not. Your bet was that Senate Republicans would not, and they didn't.

BOLTON: No. Kupperman went to court to say to a judge, tell me which of these conflicting orders do I follow.

He wanted the third branch of government to resolve the conflict between the first two, and the reaction of the House of Representatives was to withdraw the subpoena.

BAIER: Why would you vote to convict?

BOLTON: What President Trump did in Ukraine, as far as I could see based on my observation was to use government power to further his own political interest.

BAIER: But you said that was enough. If you were a senator, you would vote to convict.



BAIER: But they didn't have all the information because you didn't provide it.

BOLTON: No, I think the fact was that there was not going to be broad support for impeaching the president, certainly among Republicans without looking at a whole range of conduct. The Democrats veered into the Ukraine almost by accident. They had been focusing on what I think everybody agrees now is something the Russia collusion allegations, as to which there was no basis in fact.

And so to me, a partisan rush to use the impeachment mechanism doesn't require everybody else to make the same mistake.

And the most important way that the American people control their government and control their president is through elections. And I think a lot of people said that at the time.

BAIER: The judge who ruled that you could release this book today also put in there some stiff language, saying that you threatened national security. And that there are real questions about what is released here. Are you confident that you're not going to face any criminal or other liability after this?

BOLTON: I am very confident that there's no classified information in the manuscript. I never intended to put classified information out there.

I've spent a life professionally in the government trying to advance American interests, and that's really continued in the process of the book.

The subsequent review, I think, was a part of the campaign by the president to suppress the book. And what makes it most revealing --


BAIER: Let me just read from Judge Lamberth.

BOLTON: Could I just finish --


BAIER: "Bolton has gambled with national security of the United States. He has exposed his country to harm and himself to civil and potentially criminal liability."

BOLTON: We respectfully disagree with what the judge said there, and there'll be a civil litigation process during which the story will be told. And I'm confident it will be.

But what President Trump said that shows the political nature of the campaign to suppress the book was that he said not before the election -- after the election, OK. That shows -- the national security issue doesn't change just because of the election.

What does change is Donald Trump's personal fortune. And I think that's -- what that's -- what this is about.


BAIER: From process to substance. More of my interview with John Bolton, after this quick break.


BAIER: Welcome back to SPECIAL REPORT. In part two of my interview with former National Security Adviser John Bolton, we pick it up with President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.


BAIER: Let's talk about some of the details here, at things that really raise some eyebrows. One of them is about a meeting -- a dinner meeting outside the G20 in Osaka, Japan, in which you say that the president talked with President Xi of China about the election.

BOLTON: It was obvious that the president was urging Xi Jinping to purchase more agricultural products to help him in states that were important for his election.

BAIER: And you write in the book that that's exactly what happened. However, Ambassador Lighthizer, on Capitol Hill under oath, was asked about this very thing -- this very meeting. Here is what he said.

ROBERT LIGHTHIZER, UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE: Absolutely untrue. It never happened. I was there, I have no recollection of that every happening. I said what meeting I was at and this never happened in it, for sure.

BAIER: He's under oath on Capitol Hill saying that.

BOLTON: All right. Well, look, we could -- we can line all of us who were at that meeting up under oath. I'd be happy to do that, too. That is my recollection, but I think, more importantly, I think that's what the Chinese side recollects as well.

BAIER: Did you tell anybody about that after that meeting or your concerns about that?

BOLTON: I had a number of conversations about it within the NSC. This is --


BAIER: Anybody like the White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney or White House counsel or someone like that?

BOLTON: I don't know about Mulvaney, but I think there were a lot of conversations about it, as there were about other issues that I did brief the White House counsel and the attorney general on.

There is a certain point, I think, when everybody hears these things in the White House, they become inured to them, and I think that's a real part of the problem in the Trump Administration. It happens so often that it deadens the sensitivity.

BAIER: The other one that you point out from that G20 meeting in Osaka, the side bilat was this talk about the Uyghur concentration camps, the retraining camps. You say that the president essentially said, go ahead and build them?

BOLTON: Right, this was what was reported both at Osaka and at a previous conversation between Xi Jinping and the president by the interpreters who heard it being said. That's what -- that's what I was --


BAIER: I mean, you're sure that that's what was said?

BOLTON: That -- that's what was reported to me.


BAIER: Because that's eye-opening if true.

BOLTON: And it's consistent with his approach to human rights in China, generally. Even though, for example, he recently signed congressional legislation which really simply consolidated the sanctions authority he already had. Not just a few days ago, he said that the Uyghur issue had interrupted his trade negotiations with China.

The point is not what he believes when he signs the particular legislation or what he says when he's dealing with the Chinese, it's that he doesn't particularly believe any of it longer than it takes to get past the day he's dealing with it.

BAIER: Did you brief the president on the Uyghur issue prior to that meeting?

BOLTON: We've had conversations about the Uyghurs. There were interagency meetings going on within the National Security Council about the kinds of sanctions we should impose on China for exactly --


BAIER: Did you advise them to condemn the camps?

BOLTON: Well, it was working up what would have been a series of sanctions that the president already had authority to impose on the Uyghurs. And it was at the White House Christmas dinner in 2018 for the senior staff and their spouses that the president said to me -- had said to me -- Wilbur Ross earlier in the week and said to me at that dinner, I want this stopped.

BAIER: So, you advised him to condemn the camps, and he just reversed that at that meeting?

BOLTON: Well, in effect that stopped the process of deciding what sanctions to recommend to him. And it was consistent with the way he treated the repression of Hong Kong citizens by the government in Beijing, his unwillingness to issue a White House statement on the anniversary of Tiananmen Square, the 30th anniversary.

He heard that the State Department had issued a statement, and he told Mike Pompeo, I wish you hadn't done that. This is -- this is the sort of approach that he -- that he has taken in a variety of context dealing with those kinds of issues.

BAIER: You cite Secretary Pompeo in the book as somebody that you talked to a lot, seemed to see your point of view on things. Secretary Pompeo has called you a traitor. He openly celebrated when you left the White House.

Yet, you say that he shared North Korea views, Iran, China. So, how do you think Pompeo is so trusted in this White House for so long?

BOLTON: Well, I think he took the view that I think led the disagreements between us. That even in issues where he thought the president was moving in the wrong direction, he would just stop trying to persuade him, stop trying to fix what was clearly a problem.

And I think his political future is very much tied to the Trump administration, and I can understand what he's doing.

BAIER: Any reaction to the traitor talk? He compared you to Edward Snowden.

BOLTON: Yes, that's complete nonsense. But on the other hand, the president was quoted months ago as calling me a traitor. So, the fact that Mike Pompeo does is par for his course.

BAIER: The South Koreans have weighed in. Saying, this book does not reflect accurate facts and substantially distorts facts. "Unilaterally publishing consultations made on a mutual trust violates the basic principles of diplomacy and could severely damage future negotiations." There not a lot of people happy about this book.

BOLTON: Look, if you don't write the truth about these things at a point where the voters in South Korea, the voters in the United States can act on it, I think you're doing a disservice to the people.

BAIER: You did many interviews after the summit in Singapore where you said that it was a success and that American interests were protected. You were pressed again on "Face the Nation".

BOLTON: I'm the national security advisor, I'm not the national security decision-maker.

BAIER: But you write in the book that you were mad, you were upset that he did not take your advice on North Korea, on Iran, on China, but you weren't the decision-maker.

BOLTON: That's correct. And ultimately that's why I resigned. The point is that at least I can speak for myself, but I think for many others who have also resigned or left the White House of the administration.

You work as hard as you can to provide the advice -- is best. There just comes to point where your political capital has been expended, where it's clear the president is not inclined to listen.

BAIER: And was that point, the failure to launch an attack against Iran after the drone strike?

BOLTON: No, that wasn't -- that wasn't the point. Although I thought about it then. I thought about it a lot of times. I had a letter of resignation written for quite some time in advance.

What the final straw was, although it was really the accumulation of events, was the president's idea of inviting the Taliban to Camp David to sign the so-called Afghan Peace Agreement, which I thought was a bad agreement. I thought the president was pursuing the wrong policy, and I thought that the decision to bring them to Camp David was just -- I just couldn't respond to it.

BAIER: You went in with a long history in foreign policy as being someone who's is hawkish on a lot of issues. This president was never that way. And going in, could you see the disparity between where you were historically on foreign policy and where this president was campaigning?

BOLTON: Well, you know, I think I try and establish in the first chapter of the book how I got the job. And I talk about a series of meeting that I had with the president where he didn't focus on the differences between us. Certainly, Iraq was a difference, that was clear from the beginning, but as I said to him, he and I did agree that Obama had made a big mistake in 2011 in pulling all American troops out.

I have never been criticized for being shy about giving people my opinions. I said on Fox and in plenty of speeches, in 500 op-ed articles between the time I left the Bush administration and the time I joined the Trump administration. So the idea that somehow he was blindsided by what I believe is just not credible.

BAIER: Speaking of not credible, that is what George W. Bush said about you, did not believe that you were credible. Colin Powell obviously had a lot of things to say about you. Other administrations and other people you've worked with have painted a negative picture. Is there somebody that you've worked with that has a positive perspective on your time?

BOLTON: Well, I hope there are a lot of people who have a positive perspective. I've been criticized for a lot of things, there's a long list of that I'm sure, but I've always tried to say what I thought. BAIER: To that point, you say that the president was really transactional, he didn't have the ideology, a driving principle.

BAIER: You say that that was a real problem, that there was no principle in his foreign policy. Supporters would say America first is a principle and not going into endless wars, in his words, is a principle. You said at the Heritage Foundation in December of 2018 --


BOLTON: I think the president's transactional history of making deals that are mutually beneficial, because you don't make many successful investments unless the people on the other side of the transaction get something out of it too, is something that should encourage African governments.


BAIER: That's not what you write in this book.

BOLTON: Well, the idea of making successful deals is something that any president diplomatically wants to try and do. The record here has been pretty inadequate in terms of those deals, despite the president's assertion that that's what he does better than anybody else. Speaking as a lifelong conservative Republican, I wrote this book for everybody, liberal, conservative, moderate, but for conservatives especially, I think it's important to see what they've actually got there. And it's not a conservative philosophy. It's not a liberal philosophy either. It's no philosophy at all.

And so, in a second term I think conservatives should think about the implications of what that means.

BAIER: Bolton does think President Trump could win reelection. The final part of my interview with Ambassador Bolton after a quick break.


BAIER: President Trump is saying he would only meet with Venezuela's disputed president Nicolas Maduro in order to discuss Maduro's departure from office. That comment followed what many considered a lukewarm endorsement of opposition leader Juan Guaido. Now back to Ambassador Bolton on Venezuela.

BAIER: One of the things you pushed for was a regime change in Venezuela. You wanted Maduro out, you advised to get on board with Juan Guaido. Here's what you said about this.


BOLTON: It's like scorpions in a bottle. If you're Nicolas Maduro, how can you trust Minister of Defense Padrino knowing he as on the verge of negotiating an agreement with the opposition. Maduro's position is not sustainable. People know his regime has failed. It's going to fail.


BAIER: He's still in power. And now the president second guessing publicly whether he should be sitting down with Maduro to negotiate an exit. Your thoughts looking back at what you said then and where we are now?

BOLTON: The president, by the way, just second guessed again a few days after saying that he would sit down with Maduro. Why? Because he's concerned about the Venezuelan-American and Cuban-American vote in Florida. That's what moves Trump on Venezuela.

BAIER: He did tweet out that the only reason he would sit down is to negotiate an exit for Maduro.

BOLTON: He shouldn't sit down with Maduro in any case. It's not something the President of the Unites States would do. I said when I was still in government, the only thing to negotiate with Maduro is what he wants for lunch on the plane leaving Venezuela.

BAIER: But he hasn't left.

BOLTON: I think continued pressure on Maduro every way we can, can topple this authoritarian regime, and we need to follow through on it. The problem with Trump's behavior, here demonstrated dramatically, is that his oscillations between being for Guaido, wanting to meet with Maduro, being for Guaido, wanting to meet with Maduro, show an inconsistency and a vacillation that makes it very hard for a clear policy to succeed.

The idea of meeting with Maduro is of a piece with his desire to meet with Xi Jinping, to meet with Vladimir Putin, to meet Erdogan of Turkey, to meet with Kim Jong Un. He loves the idea of meeting with these strong authoritarian figures. I'm not a shrink. I'm not going to try and assess why that is. But in the case of Venezuela in particular, there is no point in giving Maduro any legitimacy at all.

BAIER: You mentioned what you say are failures for a number of things that the President did and trying to do. But yet you did say "I think, in fact, Prime Minister," with Netanyahu, "under your leadership with President Trump we now have the best US-Israel relationship in our history." Do you believe that to be true?

BOLTON: Yes. I think the question is, what was the motivating factor for it? And I think in Trump's case it was, as I've said, largely electoral. I'm very glad those decisions were made. I'm delighted they were made. But this is another very good example, don't mistake this for a philosophy.

BAIER: Caroline Glick, she says she's known you for 15 years, she's with Israel Hayom. She wrote that he does have a philosophy, and that his strategic goal is to make America stronger, first and foremost at home. She says "Bolton's conduct both during his White House tenure and since his departure is the behavior of a man who was unable to accept that he was an advisor to the president, not the president. Bolton begrudged Trump's position as the head of the table. Since leaving office, Bolton has dedicated himself to undermining the president, whose only sin was failing to see the world through John Bolton's eyes." From an Israeli perspective, someone who's known you for 15 years.

BOLTON:  I think she misses a number of key points. Believe me, I was perfectly aware who the decision maker was. I never had any illusions about that. And I think that the difference between the Trump approach to decision making and other presidents is that while every president takes political factors into account, the political factor, the principle motivator, the absolute center of Trump's attention is his reelection. It's true that the Trump administration policy on Iran is very different from Barack Obama's. But for the first 14 months of the Trump administration it wasn't that different. He said he wanted to get out of the Iran Nuclear Deal, but when I joined in April of 2018, we were still in the Iran nuclear deal. Now, we got out one month later. I probably should have left the administration then. That was my happiest moment probably of the whole time.

We did put enormous pressure on Iran. But when it came down to it by near the end of my tenure, Trump is still looking for that deal, wanted to meet with the Ayatollahs, wanted to meet with Khamenei, wanted to meet with the Iranian Foreign Minister. And these were the kinds of mixed signals that made it very, very difficult if not impossible to really affect the kind of change that was necessary in Tehran. That's the kind of think that I think it's very important for people to understand. This erratic behavior does undercut policy, it does make it harder to protect America and make America secure.

BAIER: After you left the administration, the U.S. took out Iran 's top general -- 

BOLTON: I supported 100 percent. This is an area, because I know a lot of what went on before Soleimani was taken out, I'm simply not going to talk about. Maybe in 15 or 20 years I can write another book and get into some of this. That's part of the, what I take extremely seriously about not revealing classified information.

BAIER: You said you're not going to vote for Donald Trump. You also clarified that you're not going to vote for Joe Biden, that you're going to write in some conservative's name. In your view who would be better on foreign policy, Joe Biden as president, or Donald Trump as president? BOLTON: I don't think there's any way of telling. I've known Joe Biden for a long, long time, and been on the opposite side of every issue. And we've also crossed swords on foreign and national security policy for a long time, and I'm not going to vote for him. The difference between Biden and Trump is that Biden has a view, and Trump has no view. On any given day, any decision is possible, and I find that frightening.

I think the response to the coronavirus demonstrates exactly the kind of fear that I have. What motivated Trump in those early days in January and February was he did not want to hear anything bad about China and his friend Xi Jinping. He didn't want to hear that the disease could threaten the United States, number one. And number two, he didn't want to hear that the U.S. economy might be imperiled by this disease because that was the way he expected to get reelected.

So the response was herky-jerky, incoherent, sporadic, and not as effective as it could've been. That's what wrong with Donald Trump decision-making. And to see it in this kind of crisis only gives a preview of what could happen in an even more severe crisis.

BAIER: So when you spend a career, at least part of it, fighting the Obama-Biden decisions on foreign policy, you worry less about a President Biden's decisions on foreign policy than you do with what you say the danger is on decision making, or lack thereof, by President Trump?

BOLTON: I worry about them both. This is a terrible election from my perspective. In 2016, where it was a choice between my law school colleague Hillary Clinton and Trump, I voted for Trump on the theory it was binary choice, and it was better to take a risk on Trump than to vote for Hillary.

I watched Trump for 17 months up close and in person, and I cannot in good conscious vote for him again. I'm not saying I'm happy about this. I'm not happy about it. And it's why I think the most important thing I will do politically between now and November, once I get the book launched, is work to keep Republican control of the Senate. I think that's absolute critical. I think it's critical whether Trump wins or whether Biden wins.

BAIER: So do you regret joining the Trump Administration? BOLTON: No, I don't go back and second guess my decisions. I did the best I could, and given the opportunity, I would do it again. I'm sure I made a lot of mistakes. I have no doubt of that. I wish I could correct them in retrospect. But I think the kind of security for America that I advocated is the mainstream of the Republican Party, and my disappointment is that Trump is so far outside.

BAIER: Ambassador Bolton, we appreciate your time. Thanks for taking all the tough questions.

BOLTON: No, thank you very much for having me.

BAIER: We'll continue with the other headlines today. More SPECIAL REPORT after this. 


BAIER: To another story today, Dr. Anthony Fauci striking an optimistic tone about the prospects and the timing for a coronavirus vaccine. His testimony on Capitol Hill comes as infections are on the rise in many places, stoking fears of a second wave or a reenergized first wave. Correspondent Casey Stegall reports tonight from Dallas.


CASEY STEGALL, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Dr. Anthony Fauci back on Capitol Hill today testifying about progress being made on eventually ending the spread of coronavirus.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES:  I still think there is a reasonably good chance that by the very beginning of 2021 that if we are going to have a vaccine, that we will have it by then.

STEGALL: A milestone that can't get here soon enough as more than 25 states continue to report an increase of new cases.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT, (R) TEXAS: COVID hasn't suddenly gone away, but neither has our ability to slow the spread of it.

STEGALL: Texas Governor Greg Abbott says shutting the economy back down would be a last resort in a state where hospitalizations have doubled in just the last four days. Medical facilities in Dallas and Houston feeling the pinch.

SAM PENA, HOUSTON FIRE DEPARTMENT CHIEF: When our ambulances are waiting at the hospitals for an hour plus, waiting to transfer the patients because hospitals are saturated, that has an impact on us being able to service the next call for service.

STEGALL: In neighboring Louisiana, a spike in both hospitalizations and new cases has prompted the governor to put the third phase of reopening on hold for another month. Health officials note more young people are also becoming infected.

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS, (D) LOUISIANA: This remains a very contagious disease. It only takes a few careless people to change the course of our trajectory.

STEGALL: And 18 to 29-year-olds now account for the bulk of the Louisiana's new cases, and a similar trend is also emerging in Florida, a state that just today recorded its highest daily death count in three weeks.

GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) FLORIDA: I think a lot of folks, particularly the younger folks, just kind of thought it was behind us.


STEGALL: Disney workers in both Florida and California have launched online petitions to keep the theme parks closed, saying that the latest virus surge should force the company to reconsider its mid-July reopening. Bret?

BAIER: Casey Stegall in Dallas. Casey, thanks.

Stocks were up today. The Dow gained 131, the S&P 500 rose 13, the Nasdaq finish ahead 75 for another record close.

When we come back, a reminder about another big interview tomorrow.


BAIER: Tomorrow night on SPECIAL REPORT we will have another special show, this time an exclusive interview with FBI Director Christopher Wray. Here's a preview.


BAIER: As we get closer to the election, should Americans feel confident that it's secure?

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Americans can have confidence in our voting system, our election infrastructure. Certainly, for an adversary to meddle with vote count would be extremely difficult to achieve. But that doesn't mean that there aren't lots of other ways in which foreign adversaries have tried to interfere, whether it's through misinformation, false influence, that kind of thing.

We're also concerned about voter fraud. That is something that has happened from time to time in the past, and it's something that we investigate aggressively when we see evidence of that.

BAIER: The president's critics say there really isn't voter fraud, but you're saying it's on your radar?

WRAY: It's certainly on our radar. I don't want to weigh in on the prevalence of it, but I would say it's a real thing, it does happen, and we investigate it sternly when it happens.


BAIER: You can see the interview tomorrow night, 6:00 p.m. Eastern on SPECIAL REPORT. I asked the director about the innerworkings of the FBI, the morale there, the reaction to the George Floyd killing, the protests, the investigations, the Michael Flynn case, the FISA abuse, and the Durham report coming out this summer. The first interview in many months. Tune in.

And be sure to check out my podcast, "The Campaign," which comes out every Tuesday, 5:00 p.m. eastern.

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