Bolton, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, made the surprising remark while appearing on CNN to discuss Tuesday’s congressional hearing on the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot.
Lawmakers on the House select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol building accused former President Donald Trump of inciting the violence in a last-ditch attempt to remain in power after losing the 2020 election.
Bolton told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday that Trump “was a disturbance in the force,” rather than a leader of an “attack on our democracy.”
Bolton said he disagreed with the notion that Trump’s actions leading up to the assault amounted to a coup d’état, suggesting that his former boss was not competent enough to carry out a coup, which he said required elaborate planning.
“That’s not the way Donald Trump does things,” he said. “It’s rambling from one … idea to another, one plan that falls through, and another comes up.”
“As somebody who has helped plan coup d’état, not here but other places, it takes a lot of work, and that’s not what he did,” Bolton added.
When asked which attempted coups he was referring to, Bolton refused to give details.
“I’m not going to get into the specifics,” Bolton said, before mentioning Venezuela. “It turned out not to be successful. Not that we had all that much to do with it but I saw what it took for an opposition to try and overturn an illegally elected president and they failed,” he said.
As Trump’s national security advisor, Bolton in 2019 said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s reelection was illegitimate and publicly supported opposition figure Juan Guaido’s call for the military to back his effort to oust the socialist leader.
CNN’s Tapper then pressed Bolton to talk about other coup attempts he might have been involved with.
“I feel like there’s other stuff you’re not telling me (beyond Venezuela),” he said, prompting a response from Bolton, “I’m sure there is.”
The United States has a long history of orchestrating coups in other countries, but it is highly unusual for US officials to openly acknowledge their role in stoking unrest overseas.