Since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine last week, upending decades of foreign relations in Europe, former President Donald Trump has leapt to say that the invasion never would've happened if he were President, citing his debunked conspiracy that the 2020 election was "rigged." Trump also repeatedly praised Putin's invasion as "genius."
During his presidency, Trump withheld congressionally approved military aid from Ukraine while urging its President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to open an investigation into then-candidate Joe Biden's son, Hunter, in hopes of using findings against Biden in the 2020 campaign. In 2018, Trump sided with Putin over U.S. intelligence officials when the Russian President insisted the Kremlin didn't attempt to interfere with the 2016 election, though his interference was well documented.
Nevertheless, conservatives have eagerly cited the lack of Russian escalation against Ukraine during the Trump years as evidence that Trump was strong on Russia.
In an interview with the far-right disinformation outlet Newsmax, Trump's former National Security Advisor—John Bolton—insisted this was not the case.
After host Rob Schmitt cited sanctions against Russian oligarchs that the Trump administration imposed, Bolton said:
"In almost every case, the sanctions were imposed with Trump complaining about it and saying we were being too hard. The fact is that he barely knew where Ukraine was. He once asked John Kelly, his second chief of staff, if Finland were a part of Russia. It's just not accurate to say that Trump's behavior somehow deterred the Russians."
Once a staunch ally of Trump, Bolton left the administration after irreconcilable differences between him and the former President. Bolton was also a key player in the Ukraine scandal that led to Trump's first impeachment, with National Security Council director Fiona Hill testifying that Bolton distanced himself from Trump over fears that the former President was unlawfully pressuring Ukraine's leaders to conduct investigations of his political opponents.
Though Bolton isn't necessarily popular with Trump critics, his comments on Newsmax generated lots of discussion.
Bolton isn't the only one who's attempted to shut down claims that Trump would've prevented a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Trump has yet to respond to Bolton's comments.