• Trump-era NatSec adviser John Bolton said his former boss is considered an “easy mark” by US rivals.
  • Both Beijing and the Kremlin would celebrate if Trump were re-elected, Bolton said.
  • Bolton told MSNBC that Trump had already fallen for one of Vladimir Putin’s ploys this month.

Trump-administration national security advisor John Bolton issued a scathing assessment of former President Donald Trump’s potential on the world stage, saying both Beijing and Moscow believe they can easily take advantage of the US with his ex-boss back in power.

“The only question in my mind if Trump is reelected is whether the bigger celebration will be in the Kremlin or in Beijing,” Bolton said in an interview aired on Sunday with MSNBC’s Jen Psaki.

Bolton said he thinks Trump fell for a ploy by Russian leader Vladimir Putin earlier this month when Putin told reporters that he preferred if a "more predictable" President Joe Biden was in the White House.

"It's a clear disinformation effort to give Trump the opportunity — which he was foolish enough to take — to say: 'I thought that was a compliment to me,'" Bolton said.

At a South Carolina rally on Thursday, Trump seized on Putin's comments and turned them into a talking point.

"He just said that he would much rather have Joe Biden as president than Trump," the former president said. "Now that's a compliment."

Bolton said that Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping both considered Trump an "easy mark" for manipulation.

"If Trump is elected, there'll be celebrations in the Kremlin, there's no doubt about it," said Bolton. "Because Putin thinks that he is an easy mark."

Bolton recalled when his staff accompanied Trump to a personal meeting with Putin, and said an interpreter told him that the leaders had discussed conflicts in Syria.

"Putin did most of the talking. So I consider that a victory," Bolton said. "The less time Trump is actually saying anything to Vladimir Putin, that's a good thing."

Trump campaigned by talking tough about China in the lead-up to the 2016 election and imposed trade tariffs on its goods after his inauguration. He also blacklisted several companies accused of stealing intellectual property and posing national security concerns, a stance that Biden continued during his presidency.

While campaigning for his reelection in November 2024, Trump has continued to threaten China, saying he would impose a 60% tariff on all Chinese imports if he becomes president.

As for his relationship with Putin, the former president is often criticized for praising the Russian leader frequently, even after Moscow invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

During his Sunday interview, Bolton also said Trump may be vulnerable to exploitation from foreign powers, given how the former president faces a total of $438 million in penalties and damages from two of his lawsuits so far.

"This is his money, and let's face it, what Donald Trump cares most about is Donald Trump, and particularly Donald Trump's money," Bolton said.

After his tenure as national security advisor under Trump from April 2018 to September 2019, Bolton has become a vocal critic of the former president, calling him "poisonous" and saying other world leaders saw him as a "laughing fool."

A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside regular business hours by Business Insider.

LEES OOK: Trump heeft mogelijk deze zomer niet genoeg geld meer beschikbaar voor de torenhoge juridische kosten waar hij mee kampt