Everything You Need to Know About Trump's Expected Pick for Deputy Secretary of State
John Bolton is the likely pick for deputy secretary of state in the Trump administration, the number two position at the State Department, sources told ABC News.
A former diplomat and State Department veteran, Bolton will likely serve as an influential deputy to a possible secretary of state with far less foreign policy experience: Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson.
Here’s what you need to know about Bolton:
Name: John Robert Bolton
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland
What he used to do: In August 2005, President George W. Bush appointed Bolton to temporarily serve as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations during a congressional recess. Unable to win Senate confirmation by the newly elected Democratic Party majority, Bolton resigned in December 2006, the same time his recess appointment would have ended.
Then-White House spokesperson Dana Perino criticized the Senate’s failure to confirm Bolton, saying at the time, “Despite the support of a strong bipartisan majority of senators, Ambassador Bolton’s confirmation was blocked by a Democratic filibuster, and this is a clear example of the breakdown in the Senate confirmation process.”
Bolton was seen as a controversial choice to serve at the United Nations in part because he was so vocally critical of the institution. In 1994, he famously said, “The Secretariat Building in New York has 38 stories. If you lost ten stories today, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”
But President Bush praised Bolton’s efforts during his 16 months at the U.N.
“Ambassador Bolton led the successful negotiations that resulted in unanimous Security Council resolutions regarding North Korea’s military and nuclear activities. He built consensus among our allies on the need for Iran to suspend the enrichment and reprocessing of uranium,” Bush said in a statement. “His efforts to promote the cause of peace in Darfur [in Sudan] resulted in a peacekeeping commitment by the United Nations. He made the case for United Nations reform because he cares about the institution, and wants it to become more credible and effective.”
Since leaving public service, Bolton has served as a foreign policy adviser to presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012 and an informal adviser to Ted Cruz in 2016. He is currently of counsel in the Washington office of Kirkland & Ellis and a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative think tank.
Career track: Bolton received his undergraduate and law degrees from Yale University. During the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, he worked in various positions at the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Justice Department, and the State Department.
His last position before his appointment to the United Nations was as the Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.
During the Clinton administration, Bolton worked as an attorney at Lerner, Reed, Bolton & McManus and as senior vice president of AEI.
Things you might not know about him: In a December 2012 interview with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, Bolton claimed that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faked a concussion to avoid testifying before Congress about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.
“When you don’t want to go to a meeting or conference or an event, you have a ‘diplomatic illness.’ And this is a diplomatic illness to beat the band,” he said.
Where he stands on the issues: In a November article for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Bolton outlined what he believed were the next president’s foreign policy priorities — the highest among them being the “related threats of radical Islamic terrorism and the Middle East’s spreading chaos.”
The second priority he named was curbing nuclear proliferation by Iran and North Korea. Bolton is highly critical of the Iran nuclear deal and wrote that Iran’s leaders “have been cheating since before the ink was dry on the deal.” In an op-ed for The New York Post, Bolton advised Trump to repeal it on his first day in office.
Bolton’s third priority is checking the power of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Bolton described as being “on the prowl in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.”
“Rebuilding protective structures of deterrence in Europe; reducing Moscow’s Middle East influence to pre-Obama days; and utilizing Russia effectively against Islamic terrorism and in the epic struggle with China may seem contradictory, but all are possible with renewed U.S. strength of purpose and the attendant resources, political and economic as well as military,” he wrote.
Bolton also questioned reports of Russian interference in U.S. elections, telling Fox News on Sunday that he couldn’t rule out the possibility that the hacking was a “false flag.”
Bolton’s fourth and fifth priorities were addressing China’s territorial claims in the South and East China Seas and protecting U.S. sovereignty, respectively.
Republican opposition: For weeks, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, has publicly urged Trump not to appoint Bolton to any position in his administration. On Sunday, during an interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” Paul said he would threaten to block any nomination of Bolton.
Last month, Paul wrote in an opinion piece for Rare, “Bolton is a longtime member of the failed Washington elite that Trump vowed to oppose, hell-bent on repeating virtually every foreign policy mistake the U.S. has made in the last 15 years — particularly those Trump promised to avoid as president.”
ABC News’ Cindy Smith contributed to this report.