Trump does himself no favors with anti-Bolton broadside

Trump lashed out wildly at John Bolton this morning, but if the president thought the tirade made him look better, he's mistaken.
Image: FILE PHOTO: President Trump signs a memorandum for "Women's Global Development and Prosperity\
U.S. President Donald Trump listens as his national security adviser John Bolton speaks during a presidential memorandum signing for the "Women's Global Development and Prosperity" initiative in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 7, 2019. LEAH MILLIS / Reuters
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By Steve Benen

A week ago today, Donald Trump said he'd like to see former National Security Advisor John Bolton, among others, testify at his Senate impeachment trial. That, of course, was before the public learned about the contents of Bolton's upcoming book, in which he reportedly says Trump confessed to him about the nature of the illegal extortion scheme with Ukraine.

The president is now saying something quite different, publishing this tirade to Twitter this morning:

"For a guy who couldn't get approved for the Ambassador to the U.N. years ago, couldn't get approved for anything since, 'begged' me for a non Senate approved job, which I gave him despite many saying 'Don't do it, sir,' takes the job, mistakenly says 'Libyan Model' on T.V., and many more mistakes of judgement, gets fired because frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now, and goes out and IMMEDIATELY writes a nasty & untrue book. All Classified National Security. Who would do this?"

So let me see if I have this straight. John Bolton, according to the president, was basically an unaccomplished loser, with misguided instincts. The president was advised not to hire him, but he ignored the guidance, felt sorry for the pathetic hawk who struggled to find a real job, and put Bolton in an enormously powerful and influential position.

In the months that followed, Trump proceeded to ignore Bolton's dangerous recommendations -- even while publicly praising his work and leaving him in his position for a year and a half.

Is Trump under the impression that this makes him look good?

Also note the president's obligatory reference to Bolton having "begged" him for the White House job. It's amazing the frequency with which people allegedly "beg" him: perusing the Trump Twitter Archive, the Republican has claimed that Mitt Romney begged him for a cabinet post, Omarosa Manigault begged him for a job, so did Steve Bannon, Bob Corker begged him for an endorsement, as did John McCain.

It's possible these humiliating displays unfolded behind the scenes. It's also possible that Trump sees this as a go-to boast that he believes belittles those who dare to criticize him.

I am curious, though, about how Bolton will respond to the president's online tirade. If the former White House adviser -- known for taking a lot of notes -- wanted to make Trump's life even more difficult, it's hardly unreasonable to think he could.

And after this morning, Bolton may have an added incentive to do just that.

Postscript: There's a dynamic in which Trump praises prominent members of his team, right up until they do something to cross him, at which point he attacks them with a vengeance. If it seems at all familiar, it's because we've seen the story play out over and over again.

MORE: Today's Maddowblog