Former national security adviser John Bolton took a swipe at President Donald Trump’s reputed penchant for watching TV by saying it would be interesting to compare the president’s screen hours to his time listening to his advisers.
Bolton made the comment Sunday on “Face the Nation” after host Margaret Brennan asked him if the president’s thinking was shaped more by television or his advisers.
“Well, I think it’s a combination of television and listening to people outside the government that he trusts for one reason or another,” said Bolton, who’s making the rounds promoting his new book, The Room Where It Happened, about his time in the Trump administration.
“I think that if you could clock the amount of time he spent actually in the Oval Office versus the amount of time he spends in the little dining room off the Oval Office with the cable news networks in one form or another on, it would be a very interesting statistic,” Bolton said.
Bolton is not the first person to suggest Trump spends an inordinate amount of time watching TV. The New York Times reported in April that Trump was watching as much as seven hours of cable news programs each morning and not arriving in the Oval Office until noon. The story’s headline even referred to TV as Trump’s “constant companion.”
Time magazine reported that the president had a 60-inch TV installed in his private White House dining room in 2017. According to The New York Times, Trump mostly watches Fox News, which was making him increasingly cranky, CNN and a bit of MSNBC.
Bolton also undermined Trump’s claim that he wasn’t told about American intelligence that the Russians were offering a bounty to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. The president and his press secretary insist Trump wasn’t briefed on the intelligence because the information wasn’t credible.
Bolton said that’s not the way the system works.
“All intelligence is distributed along the spectrum of uncertainty,” he said. “And this intelligence in 2020, by the administration’s own admission, was deemed credible enough to give to our allies. So the notion that you only give the really completely 100 percent verified intelligence to the president would mean you give him almost nothing. And that’s just not the way the system works.”