John Bolton Says Vladimir Putin Thinks He Can Play Donald Trump ‘Like A Fiddle’

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive to waiting media during a joint press conference after their summit on July 16, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland.
Chris McGrath / Getty Images

Former White House National Security Adviser John Bolton recently sat down with ABC News Chief of Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz for an interview that will be aired on June 21. As reported by ABC News, a clip from the appearance shows Bolton claiming that Russian President Vladimir Putin is confident in his ability to manipulate Donald Trump.

“I think Putin thinks he can play him like a fiddle,” Bolton said. “I think Putin is — smart, tough. He plays a bad hand extremely well. And I think — I — I think he sees that — he’s not faced with a serious adversary here.”

According to Bolton, Trump’s lack of foreign policy knowledge has put America in an unfavorable global position.

“When you’re dealing with somebody like Putin, who has made his life understanding Russia’s strategic position in the world, against Donald Trump, who doesn’t enjoy reading about these issues or learning about them, it’s a very difficult position for America to be in.”

“I don’t think he’s worried about Donald Trump,” Bolton later said of Putin.

According to Bolton, Trump’s susceptibility to manipulation has made him a target for world leaders like Putin, as well as China’s Xi Jinping, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Bolton claims that Trump has been “marked” by these leaders, all of whom have allegedly wanted to meet the president in the absence of his advisers to manipulate him. Bolton also claimed that such manipulation was easy due to Trump’s purported top priority — winning reelection in November. Bolton went as far as to claim that this obsession drove all of the decisions he witnessed Trump make during his time at the White House.

Nina Khrushcheva, professor of international affairs at The New School, previously penned an NBC News op-ed in which she argued that Trump’s “admiration” for Putin has left him open to manipulation. According to Khrushcheva, Putin is aware of this admiration and is capitalizing on Trump’s personality, which she said is “easy to manipulate.” Like Bolton, Khrushcheva contrasted Putin’s vast political knowledge with Trump’s, who she claimed is interested in “power” and “affirmation.”

Bolton’s interview is set to air just days before the release of his tell-all memoir, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, on June 23. Trump and Attorney General William Barr have both claimed that Bolton may have included classified information in the book, which they suggest could lead to criminal charges.