John Bolton, former President Donald Trump's onetime national security adviser, downplayed his old boss's attempts to overturn the 2020 election during an appearance on CNN's New Day on Friday, dismissing it as a "hysteria" ginned up by the media.
Responding to new revelations that Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows engaged in a range of actions designed to discredit and reverse Joe Biden's electoral victory, Bolton shrugged it off as insignificant.
"I could no more have helped conduct a coup against the president of the United States than the chair you're sitting in," Bolton said about the position of Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division, which he held during the Reagan administration and which Clark held under Trump. "I think the chance of the assistant attorney general leading a coup is somewhere close to zero."
When asked by "New Day" host John Berman if he was concerned that other government figures, and not just Trump, were exploring ways to overturn the election, Bolton insisted that because the threats to do so were quickly neutralized by the country's electoral system it isn't an issue.
"Donald Trump said, 'Mike Pence, I want you to throw out the electoral college votes from some of the key states,' and Mike Pence flat out refused. That's how the system works, and when people talk about how close we were to a coup, it vastly overstates the danger," Bolton argued. "And if you do that, you're going to prepare for the wrong threat next time. I don't in anyway defend Donald Trump, but let's understand clearly what exactly that threat was."
Bolton went on to say that he rejects calls for increased federal oversight of election administration, arguing that "[if] you centralize more election authority in Washington, and if there is another Donald Trump, it will be easier for that would be coupster to manipulate that mechanism."
Bolton also dismissed concerns that Trump may try to overturn the 2024 election if he runs and loses, saying that "he can cause trouble but as a private citizen at that point he becomes increasingly vulnerable to prosecution for what is clearly criminal activity."
"I just think when you magnify the threat and overstate the case you turn people off, you don't get a serious discussion," Bolton reiterated. "The conduct Trump engaged in was unacceptable, and people should talk about it, but they should not exaggerate it."