Donald Trump Reportedly Hoped Coronavirus Would Kill John Bolton

Former President Donald Trump speaks as John Bolton looks on.
Gettyimages | Alex Wong
US Politics

Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History, a new book by Washington Post reporters Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta, details how former President Donald Trump tried to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Excerpts of the book, which will be out next week, have already been published by several media outlets. According to an excerpt released by Axios on Wednesday, during one meeting with staff and advisers, Trump said he hoped COVID-19 would kill his former national security adviser John Bolton.

Here's What Trump Allegedly Said

"Trump had tried to joke about the virus for months, sometimes even mocking people who had become ill. At one meeting several months [before Trump got sick], NEC director Larry Kudlow had stifled a cough. The room had frozen," Abutaleb and Paletta write.

"Trump had waved his hands in front of his face, as if to jokingly ward off any flying virus particles, and then cracked a smile. 'I was just kidding,' he'd said. 'Larry will never get COVID. He will defeat it with his optimism. 'John Bolton,' he had said ... 'Hopefully COVID takes out John.'"

Bolton Hits Back

In a statement supplied to Axios, Bolton commented on the quote.

"Fooled me -- I thought he was relying on his lawyers," the former national security adviser told the outlet's Jonathan Swan.

In 2020, Bolton released a book about his time in the White House, The Room Where It Happened.

As The New York Times reported, Bolton claimed in his book that Trump tried to terminate criminal investigations to advance his own political interests and obstructed justice on several occasions.

Bolton also wrote that Trump admired authoritarian leaders like China's Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump Vs. Bolton

Former President Donald Trump and former national security adviser John Bolton attend a White House meeting.
Gettyimages | Chip Somodevilla

Trump hired Bolton as an adviser in 2018. The two reportedly had major disagreements on foreign policy, with the former president refusing to embrace his adviser's militaristic, neoconservative views.

Trump fired Bolton in 2019 via Twitter and later used the platform to viciously attack him. As ABC News reported, in a Twitter thread published in 2020, the former president called Bolton a "sick puppy" and a "wacko" who has terrible foreign policy ideas.

In response, Bolton described Trump's statements as "unbecoming of the Office of President."

'Nightmare Scenario'

In Nightmare Scenario, Abutaleb and Paletta also alleged that Trump floated sending coronavirus-infected Americans to Guantanamo Bay.

"Don’t we have an island that we own? What about Guantanamo? We import goods. We are not going to import a virus," Trump reportedly told advisers during a meeting, as they debated what to do with infected Americans coming back home from abroad.

The book also claims that Trump objected to testing for the novel virus, apparently because he thought widespread testing would show an increase in COVID-19 cases and jeopardize his chances of being reelected.