Ignoring Trump, John Kelly says, 'I believe John Bolton'

In response to Bolton's book, Kelly could've said, "I know the president and there's no way he'd ever say or do anything like this." But that's not what he said
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By Steve Benen

Donald Trump briefly addressed former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton's book yesterday, telling reporters that he hasn't seen the manuscript, but adding, in an odd passive voice, "Nothing was ever said to John Bolton."

Soon after, the president was a bit more direct on the subject. Asked for his response to Bolton's allegations, Trump said, "False.... Totally false."

As it turns out, John Kelly, Trump's former White House chief of staff, was far more credulous about Bolton's perspective.

"If John Bolton says that in the book, I believe John Bolton," Kelly said at a lecture series appearance in Sarasota, Fla. Kelly added, "John's an honest guy. He's a man of integrity and great character, so we'll see what happens," according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The former White House chief of staff said "the majority of Americans would like to hear the whole story," adding, "I think if there are people that could contribute to this, either innocence or guilt ... I think they should be heard."

It's worth noting for context that the retired Marine general, who served alongside the president in the West Wing for a year and a half, had an opportunity to get to know Trump very well -- and in this context, that matters quite a bit.

Confronted with reports that Trump told Bolton that he was withholding military aid to a vulnerable ally because he hoped to extort Ukraine into helping him cheat in an election, Kelly could've said, "I know the president and there's no way he'd ever say or do anything like this."

Instead, Kelly said he believes Bolton, praising the former national security advisor's honesty, integrity, and character -- words Kelly hasn't applied to his former boss.

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