Bolton says Trump’s ‘short attention span’ might keep US in NATO

Former national security adviser John Bolton downplayed former President Trump’s threats against NATO slightly, suggesting Trump’s “short attention span” could keep him from following through on leaving the alliance.

Trump has been openly critical of NATO, calling on alliance members to increase their contributions and threatening that he could “encourage” Russia to invade if they do not. He also dismissed bipartisan criticism of the comments, saying the threats are just negotiation tactics.

Bolton, who worked in the Trump administration, warned Wednesday that Trump is likely to pull the U.S. out of NATO unless he is “distracted.”

“I think he would do it very early in the term,” Bolton said in a MeidasTouch interview Wednesday. “The remedy I would propose to anybody who doesn’t want us to withdraw from NATO is find a way to distract his attention. And since he has a short attention span, that can work at least for a while until it pops back into his head.”

Bolton added that he believes a second Trump term could see the former president follow through on some of the unfulfilled promises from when he was in the White House, for better or worse. He warned that Trump could be focused on taking revenge against political opponents.

“Trump himself says quite frequently on the campaign trail that he’s going to exact retribution against people who he ran afoul of in the first term, or after he left office,” he said. “Now he casts in the guise of saying he’s protecting his supporters, that he’s going to get retribution on their behalf. But make no mistake about it. It will be a retribution presidency on behalf of Trump.”

Trump’s NATO comments have split Republicans, with some brushing them off as joking or sarcastic, while others warn that there is a serious concern the former president could remove the U.S. from the 75-year-old alliance.

“I don’t agree by any means that we should turn away from our allies. That, number one, has never been done before, nor should be done,” Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said in February. “Obviously, everyone has an obligation to be able to fill their obligation, but to say, we’ll let you be killed if you don’t, is the wrong way to go.”

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