National Security Adviser John Bolton on Sunday defended President Donald Trump frequently taking autocrats at their word by pointing out that foreign leaders “who are friends of ours lie to our face as well.”
The comment came in response to questions about President Donald Trump’s claim that he takes North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un “at his word” that he was not responsible for American Otto Warmbier’s death.
In an interview with Bolton, “Fox News Sunday” host Christopher Wallace compared Trump’s comment to instances when he accepted the word of Vladimir Putin and Mohammed bin Salman regarding allegations of election meddling and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, respectively.
“Fundamentally, in the case of all three of those countries, we’ve got to pursue American national interest,” Bolton said. “And that involves matters much weightier, much more important than some of these statements by the leaders.”
“Look, foreign leaders who are friends of ours lie to our face as well,” he continued. “This is nothing new in international relations.”
Earlier in the exchange, Bolton attempted to argue Trump didn’t really take Kim at his word, despite Trump saying he took Kim at his word.
“He’s not taking his word,” Bolton said. “When he says ‘I’m going to take him at his word,’ it doesn’t mean that he accepts it as reality. It means that he accepts that’s what Kim Jong Un said.”
In another interview Sunday, Bolton wouldn’t match Trump’s statement that he took Kim at his word.
John Bolton on @FoxNewsSunday: “When he says 'I’m going to take him at his word,' it doesn’t mean that he accepts it as reality. It means that he accepts that’s what Kim Jong Un said…Look, foreign leaders who are friends of ours lie to our face as well." https://t.co/HjzyQBflnB pic.twitter.com/qNMHrFvccC
— Matt Shuham (@mattshuham) March 3, 2019