Nicolle Wallace seemed to pick up where Stephen Colbert left off on Thursday afternoon when former national security adviser John Bolton stopped by her MSNBC show to hawk his new book The Room Where It Happened.
The host began by grilling Bolton on the phone call he says he made to Attorney General William Barr, warning him that President Trump was trying to trade foreign aid for political favors.
“I guess I wonder what you thought would happen,” Wallace said, noting that Barr “put his finger on the scale and distorted [Robert] Mueller's findings.” She asked, “Was it your hope or your intention that the possible criminality and corruption would be investigated? Or did you just want it off your plate, like a hot potato?”
In response, Bolton called Barr a “man of integrity,” explaining that he “believed he would do his job.”
Bolton’s false assumptions about the people he worked with in the White House was a theme throughout the interview, and especially applied to the president himself. Wallace was particularly alarmed by Bolton’s “harrowing” description of the two-hour one-on-one meeting Trump had in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin without any aides present or notes taken.
“Well, it was a very long two hours, I can tell you that,” Bolton said, attempting a joke. Wallace wasn’t having it.
“I have to say, at the end of it, having heard from what the president himself said, what we heard from our interpreter in the room, and what was discussed at the subsequent working lunch between the two leaders that a number of us attended, I don’t—I don’t think that anything happened in that one-on-one meeting that compromised American national security,” Bolton said.
At this point, a clearly flabbergasted Wallace interrupted to ask, “You don't think? I mean, you were the national security adviser. You don't think anything happened?” Pointing out that Trump came out of that meeting and “threw the entire intelligence community under the bus,” she repeated, “So you don't think anything endangered national security.”
“Well, that's a different story,” Bolton said in response. He went on to admit that “it would be better if we had had more of a sense of what the president's objectives were. I'm not sure he had objectives going into the conversation.”
Towards the end of the interview, Wallace brought up Colbert’s contentious interview with Bolton directly.
“Do you regret going in?” she asked of Bolton’s time in the administration. “I saw you, I think, on Stephen Colbert talk about how you thought maybe you would be different. And you are really harsh on the people that came before you. Did you think that you would be different? Did you think that the Trump White House would be different than what you encountered?”
After throwing former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis under the bus once more, Bolton eventually addressed his own shortcomings. “All of us who went in who thought we could make a contribution, it was a personal decision,” he said. “I hope I put forward in the book some of the mistakes I made. Maybe I made more than my share. But I don't second-guess going in. It's an honor to serve the country. We all are mortal. You have got to do the best you can. And with this president, it just proved impossible to do better.”
Wallace attempted to end the interview by asking Bolton how he will feel if he wakes up the morning after Election Day 2020 and Trump has won. But apparently their connection was lost so he never had to answer.