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We Now Have More Details on Skeezy Bob Menendez’s Bribery Scheme

A new court filing says Senator Bob Menendez tried to blame all those gold bars on someone else—and regularly made calls on a backup “James Bond” phone.

Bob Menendez leaves a car
Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Senator Robert Menendez must be running out of options. In court papers filed late Monday, federal prosecutors alleged that both the New Jersey lawmaker and his wife, Nadine Menendez, told a “false cover story” about the origin of gold bars that prosecutors allege were the result of bribes from foreign agents.

Per Nadine’s alibi to a jeweler, the couple obtained the gold bars from “her deceased mother.” A Menendez staffer reported that the senator himself also tried to claim that “the gold had come from Nadine Menendez’s deceased mother,” according to prosecutors.

Still, that somehow seems unlikely, considering that the gold bars were stamped with the name “Menendez” and since four of the gold bars had matching serial numbers to four gold bars reportedly owned by one of the senator’s alleged bribers, New Jersey real estate tycoon Fred Daibes.

Prosecutors revealed other new details in Menendez’s alleged bribery scheme in their recent court filing as well. Nadine Menendez’s diamond engagement ring was part of a $150,000 bribe. Cash in the couple’s home was found stuffed in boots, jackets, and in bags hanging on clothes hangers. And the New Jersey congressman regularly made phone calls on Nadine’s alternate cell phone, “a phone Menendez and Nadine Menendez referred to as her ‘007’ phone, an apparent reference to the fictional character James Bond,” prosecutors wrote.

The New Jersey Democrat and his wife stand accused of acting as a foreign agent for Egypt, taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, gold bars, and other flashy gifts in exchange for Menendez’s “power and influence to protect and enrich” the businessmen and government of Egypt. In a superseding indictment filed in January, Menendez was also accused on other corruption-related charges, allegedly taking bribes from Qatar in an attempt to help Daibes secure a multimillion-dollar investment from an investment company tied to the Middle Eastern country, collecting lavish gifts in exchange for his handiwork. Menendez, his wife, and Daibes have all pleaded not guilty to all charges.

“The problem is, is that there is no evidence of the giving or receiving of cash and gold bars. In fact there has been, and will be at trial, a full explanation of what is the truth about those issues. A truth that proves I am entirely innocent of the charges,” Menendez said on January 9.

Meanwhile, Menendez has not only refused calls for his resignation, but he is still seeking another term this November, despite polling suggesting that 70 percent of New Jersey residents want him out.” He was, however, forced to resign as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under Senate Democrats’ bylaws, which forbid members from serving in leadership roles if they’re charged with felonies.

It’s the latest in a seeming history of corruption charges for Menendez. In 2017, another corruption case involving the senator and a wealthy eye doctor convicted of Medicare fraud ended in a mistrial after jurors failed to reach a verdict on whether Menendez had traded political favors in exchange for trips on a private jet and lavish vacations.

Tommy Tuberville Competes for Congress’s Biggest Putin Sycophant

Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville has hit an absolute low with his pro-Putin rant.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Tommy Tuberville, former college football mediocrity and TNR’s Dumbest Senator of 2023, announced himself as a contender for Congress’s Biggest Putin Sycophant in a recent interview on a Mobile, Alabama, radio program.

Speaking on The Jeff Poor Show on Monday, Tuberville shamelessly fawned over the Russian prime minister.

“You can tell Putin’s on top of his game. One thing he said that, it really rung a bell, is the propaganda media machine over here, they sell anything they possibly can to go after Russia,” Tuberville said, aping almost word for word the Kremlin’s talking points on American opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We forced this issue,” said Tuberville. “We kept forcing NATO all the way to Eastern Europe, and Putin just got tired of it. He said, ‘Listen, I do not want missiles on my border from the United States. It’d be like Russia coming to Mexico and putting missiles in Mexico.”

“I can understand what he’s talking about,” Tuberville added, showing an empathy apparently reserved only for authoritarians.

The comments came just hours before Tuberville voted to shoot down the Senate’s foreign aid deal, which dedicates $60 billion in aid to Ukraine. (The $95 billion package also includes aid for Israel and Taiwan.)

“They can’t win,” Tuberville told Poor, referring to Ukraine. “Half the country’s like we are: They don’t even know what war is going on,” he added, a hard-to-believe assertion given the estimated $100 billion in damages Ukraine has suffered since the beginning of the war.

He was, however, typically sanguine about former President Trump’s prospects of ending the conflict, which has raged on since 2022. Trump, Tuberville promised, “will have it over in a matter of weeks when he gets elected.”

When he wasn’t praising Putin, Tuberville displayed the shaky message discipline characteristic of Republican opposition to the aid bill, cynically raising America’s own military capacity: “We don’t have weapons for ourselves, and so we’re gonna make weapons for other people?” He later feigned concern for Ukrainians and offered a confused, pseudo-historical pacifist argument, explaining to Poor, “Listen, if we don’t make Russia, you know, part of the world and get away from this old USSR communism situation.… We’ve gotta get peace back on this planet.”

Tuberville’s groveling is symptomatic of a decades-long trend of Republican flirtation with the Kremlin. To wit, he’s not even the only senator to have praised Putin this week. Given Trump’s own praise of Putin, it’s hardly surprising to see his most ardent supporters in the Senate hand it to the man Trump once called “genius.” But it’s no less alarming to see U.S. senators echo Russian pro-war talking points in response to a bipartisan aid package to an ally.

Republican Congressman’s Biden Border Meme Backfires Spectacularly

Representative Chuck Edwards got a seriously embarrassing fact-check after posting a meme complaining about the border under Joe Biden.

Representative Chuck Edwards stares (maybe frowning) at the camera
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

A Republican congressman absolutely humiliated himself on Wednesday while trying to criticize President Joe Biden’s handling of the border.

North Carolina Representative Chuck Edwards posted an image to his X account of a massive human caravan headed toward the U.S.-Mexico border, stamping his own office’s logo on it while facetiously clipping an icon of Biden onto the picture with the caption “I did that.”

But what Edwards seemingly didn’t do was fact-check his own meme before posting it.

The picture of that incredible line on its way to cross the border wasn’t snapped anytime during Biden’s presidency, but actually on October 27, 2018, squarely during Trump’s term—who notably used the caravan and its wave of Honduran refugees fleeing a nation plagued by poverty and violence to his political advantage. At the time, Trump anxiously called on Congress to continue construction on his multibillion-dollar border wall and increase border protections ahead of the caravan’s approach.

Trump’s so-called “impenetrable” border wall would ultimately be breached more than 3,200 times between 2019 and 2021, according to a leaked memo by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

In 2019, Trump froze $450 million in U.S. foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador for failing to curtail the influx of refugees to the U.S. border—a move that government officials and activists from those nations warned would only make the region more vulnerable and desperate for resources, instigating a larger influx of refugees over time.

Democrats Just Flipped George Santos’s House Seat. Good Luck, Republicans.

Democrat Tom Suozzi won a House seat in New York’s special election. And with that, everything changes.

Tom Suozzi smiles and shakes the hand of a supporter. Others surround him and hold his campaign posters.
Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Tom Suozzi greets supporters in Westbury, New York, on Tuesday's special election.

Republicans suffered an embarrassing defeat Tuesday night, as Democrats won back a key House seat.

Former Representative Tom Suozzi reclaimed his throne representing New York’s 3rd congressional district, after a bitter fight against Republican Nassau County legislator Mazi Pilip. The Associated Press called the race at 10:03 p.m.

The pair went neck and neck for more than two months before facing off in a special election on Tuesday to fill the vacant seat left behind by disgraced former Representative George Santos. Suozzi will finish out the remaining 11 months of Santos’s term even as the seat is up for another election in November.

Suozzi’s win secures one additional seat in the House of Representatives for Democrats, and one less for Republicans, who have been struggling to pass any legislation with a historically divided caucus and a razor-thin majority. Republicans now hold an even narrower majority in the House of Representatives: 219–213, with three vacancies.

It’s a triumphant return to the world of Long Island politics for the 61-year-old Suozzi, who had previously represented the district from 2017 until January 2023, when he gave it up following his second unsuccessful bid for New York’s governorship. Before that, he had also served two terms as Nassau County executive. It’s just the second—and possibly last—time that New York’s 3rd congressional district will border these specific parameters in northern Nassau County and northeastern Queens, a penalty after Democrats bungled the last redistricting, giving Republicans an edge in the newly baked district. New York’s highest court recently ordered the state’s bipartisan Redistricting Commission to come up with a new congressional map by the 2024 elections, which could help Democrats take back their advantage.

Pilip’s loss, meanwhile, comes after months spent skirting the limelight rather than courting it, avoiding media presence and refusing debates with the seasoned politician until just five days before election night, when she finally faced off against Suozzi to lackluster reception.

“I can explain why she didn’t want to debate, and I can explain why the Republican Party who’s been handling her didn’t want her to debate, because she doesn’t have any detailed positions on any issues,” Suozzi said on Sunday, adding that he was “flabbergasted” by her dismal performance.

Prior to the debate, both candidates had attempted to relegate one another to the extremes of their party. Pilip accused Suozzi of being a member of “The Squad,” the progressive BIPOC circle in the House of Representatives that includes Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, while Suozzi cast Pilip as a female George Santos.

Polling had predicted a Suozzi win over Pilip by roughly 4 percent since November, according to aggregated data by FiveThirtyEight. Still, Suozzi told Politico he was “very happy” with a Newsday/Siena College poll released Thursday showing similar results, adding that he thought “it would be closer,” acknowledging the GOP’s baked-in advantages in the district.

The final stretch in the nail-biting race depended on both candidates urging their supporters to turn out for early voting, ahead of snowfall that blanketed the region on Tuesday.

The devastating result is evidence that Republicans, despite having an upper hand in District 3, will be hard pressed to earn back the support of their voters after failing to vet Santos, aggressively pushing him as a candidate despite his fabricated résume.

In December, Santos became only the sixth representative to be expelled from the lower chamber in U.S. history, after “overwhelming evidence” emerged in a House Ethics Committee report that alleged Santos had broken the law by stealing people’s identities, racking up tens of thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges on his donors’ credit cards, and lying to the Federal Election Commission and, by extension, the public, about himself and his campaign.

The fabulist former congressman—who also lied about having a high-paying job working for Goldman Sachs or Citigroup and ultimately used stolen campaign money to bolster his Botox and designer goods binges—faces 23 charges related to wire fraud, money laundering, identity theft, and credit card fraud. He has pleaded not guilty to the first 13 charges announced in May and has since denied another 10 charges announced in a superseding indictment in October.

Santos’s trial is scheduled to begin in September. But six weeks after he professed his innocence and claimed he would never take a plea deal, Santos said he was in negotiations with prosecutors to fess up to some of the charges.

Pennsylvania Democrats Just Won a Big Election—and It Deserves Your Attention

Jim Prokopiak’s win in Pennsylvania’s special election seriously shifts the balance of power for Democrats.

SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Pennsylvania Democrats secured a huge victory in Tuesday night’s special election, which will allow them to maintain control of the state House of Representatives.

Democrat Jim Prokopiak defeated Republican Candace Cabanas in the state House race in Bucks County, just north of Philadelphia. Prokopiak leads with 85.9 percent of the vote, according to early returns.

The win comes at a time when Democrats are hoping for another major victory on the national stage, with former Democratic Representative Tom Suozzi seeking to return to the House of Representatives to take over George Santos’s seat in New York’s 3rd congressional district.

While that race is understandably receiving a lot of attention—given that it could dramatically shrink Republicans’ already razor-thin majority in Congress—what’s happening in Pennsylvania has just as much significance.

With Prokopiak’s victory, Democrats will control the state House by 102–100, thus maintaining their grip on the majority they have defended in four special elections in the past year.

Prokopiak will replace former Democratic state Representative John Galloway, who resigned in December after winning a district court judge seat in Bucks County. That left the state House split 101–101. Last week, Republican Representative Joe Adams also resigned, shifting the balance of power back to Democrats—before Prokopiak further solidified it Tuesday.

Much like other Democrats in the state’s special elections, Prokopiak ran on a promise to protect abortion access in Pennsylvania. The national Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee poured more than $80,000 into the race in support of his campaign.

The victory will cement Democratic control of both the state House and the governor’s office. That means Democrats will not only be able to successfully block any Republican bills—including on abortion, guns, school vouchers, or voter ID laws—that may arise from the GOP-controlled state Senate. It also means they can start crafting legislation of their own.

During his campaign, Prokopiak said his goals included more funding for K-12 education, safeguarding access to abortion, and raising the minimum wage.

“What I heard from voters is that Bucks County residents need help supporting their families, want control over their own bodies, and [to] ensure they have the ability to chart their own paths in life,” Prokopiak said in a statement Tuesday night. “I’m committed to taking my conversations with voters to Harrisburg and making their dreams a reality.”

Local elections matter—and in Pennsylvania, Democrats can finally move forward on making their campaign promises a reality.

A Promising Sign That SCOTUS Won’t Let Trump Delay January 6 Trial

Donald Trump has appealed the presidential immunity ruling to the Supreme Court—and the court has already responded.

Close-up of Donald Trump as he speaks
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Supreme Court appears to be wasting no time making a determination over Donald Trump’s presidential immunity claim in his January 6 trial, giving special counsel Jack Smith until next week to respond to Trump’s attempt to stay a lower court’s ruling that flatly rejected the immunity argument.

The court announced the deadline on Tuesday, just one day after Trump appealed to the Supreme Court.

Legal experts commented that the hairpin turnaround could only mean one thing.

“What that says is actually good because that means that the Supreme Court is expediting whatever decision they’re going to make,” former Manhattan District Attorney Catherine Christian told MSNBC.

“And I suspect that the special counsel already has their response ready to go. Remember, Monday is a holiday, Presidents Day. So (the) Trump team met their deadline yesterday, and then, the next morning, the Supreme Court and the chief judge says: Respond by next Tuesday, (which) is a good sign that whatever decision the Supreme Court makes, it will hopefully be expedited,” Christian continued.

Trump’s appeal to the Supreme Court is very likely a delay tactic, but so far, it doesn’t seem like the court is wholly entertaining it.

“I think frankly, it’s nakedly about delay. What the former president is hoping to do is have his cake and eat it too. He does not want the court, really, to get to the merits. He wants more and more process, and that’s what he’s hoping for here,” former federal prosecutor Temidayo Aganga-Williams told the network.

“[The Supreme Court] is appearing to move quickly here, which from my vantage point is heartening, and I hope that they will resist his request to slow this down even further.”

If the court rejects Trump’s request, the case will return to Judge Tanya Chutkan, who would set a new trial date.

Smith has been urging the court to expedite the process for months, even asking SCOTUS to circumvent the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in reviewing the immunity claim, though the high court denied the attempt.

“This Court’s immediate review of that question is the only way to achieve its timely and definitive resolution,” Smith wrote in a December filing. “The Nation has a compelling interest in a decision on [Trump’s] claim of immunity from these charges—and if they are to be tried, a resolution by conviction or acquittal, without undue delay.”

GOP Congressman Accidentally Gives Real Reason for Mayorkas Impeachment

Republican Representative French Hill just gave away the game.

Representative French Hill wears a suit and speaks before a mic in the House chamber
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Surprise, surprise: The GOP is being disingenuous about impeachment again.

Just a few years after crying foul at the “witch hunt” impeachment of then-President Trump (and then crying foul again), Republicans are pursuing the nakedly partisan impeachment of Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. The House is expected to vote again on Tuesday evening on whether to impeach the DHS secretary, the second such attempt in a week.

There’s only one problem: They still can’t explain how Mayorkas has failed to uphold his constitutional duty.

On Tuesday, Republican Representative French Hill announced the party’s bald-faced political motivations for impeaching Mayorkas. On a panel hosted by Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo, Hill laid out the case against Mayorkas (or lack thereof).

“We need to shut the border.… The president could take executive action to do it today—doesn’t need more money. It needs action, and this is what’s disappointing to people, and that’s why Mayorkas is gonna pay this public relations price by being impeached for the first time since 1876,” Hill said.

Notably absent from Hill’s explanation was any description of high crimes and misdemeanors committed by Mayorkas. Hill all but admitted that, with the impeachment, Republicans are aiming to make Mayorkas the face of their anti-Biden, anti-immigrant campaign, despite his having not committed impeachable offenses.

With his “1876” comment, Hill was referring to the last (and only) time a Cabinet member was impeached, when Secretary of War William Belknap was acquitted. It was not the last time a Cabinet member’s impeachment was voted on, however. That would be just last week, when House Speaker Mike Johnson failed to ensure he had enough votes to successfully impeach Mayorkas the first time and three members of his party voted against the effort.

Two of those Republicans—Representatives Ken Buck and Tom McClintock—did so on the grounds that the impeachment crusade is a political sham and in violation of the Constitution. (So far, there’s no indication they’ll change their votes this time around.)

House Republicans have mooted impeaching Mayorkas since Johnson’s predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, was in charge. He too pledged to impeach Mayorkas. But then, as now, there was one glaring issue: They didn’t know why they were doing it. That’s never stopped them before, and it won’t now.

One would think Republicans are taking their do-over more seriously than their first try. But it’s hard to imagine giving away the game so openly was part of the game plan.

More on this particular impeachment sham:

GOP Congressman Spews Racist Screed on Fall of “Western Civilization”

Republican Representative Chip Roy went into full meltdown mode when talking about the Senate’s new foreign aid package.

Representaive Chip Roy speaks at a podium
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Texas Republican Representative Chip Roy may have stirred up disunity in the GOP earlier this year with his threats to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson, but he’s in lockstep with the rest of his party on one thing: Democrats want to “end Western civilization” with open borders.

In an interview with Fox News’s Harris Faulkner on Tuesday, Roy was asked about the Senate’s passage of a $95 billion foreign aid package, which dedicates assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

The Freedom Caucus member accused Democrats of not “[having] any interest in sitting down at the table” to discuss border security—less than a week after Republicans killed a bipartisan bill that included border funding alongside the foreign aid package, at the urging of Donald Trump.

Roy went on to baselessly claim that Democrats, who he snidely called “colonizers,” “want to flood the zone” with “the chaos created by wide-open borders.”

“It’s not just political,” said Roy. “They want to remake America. They want to end Western civilization.”

Roy also complained about the number of “foreign-born” people in the United States.

The demographic conspiracy espoused by Roy, a variant of the explicitly white supremacist “great replacement theory,” is becoming an increasingly popular talking point in the GOP. What was once confined to the hinterlands of white nationalist message boards has been adopted whole cloth by the Republican mainstream and is now repeated by lawmakers like Roy on television.

Roy also took the opportunity to take a potshot at same-sex marriage, accusing Democrats of “trying to force their beliefs” on “countries in Africa who dare to say that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Roy’s was not the only mention of the threat to Western civilization by the global right this week; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his own Fox News interview, called the bombardment of Rafah part of a “battle of the forces of civilization against the worst forces of barbarism on the planet.”

Roy’s and Netanyahu’s comments are emblematic of a global right obsessed with conspiratorial ideations of civilizational decline and collapse. For Fox, it makes for a good segment.

MAGA Candidate Says He’s Worried About Babies Who Might Get an Abortion

Bill Eigel, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Missouri, may not realize, but this is physically impossible.

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Thousands of demonstrators march in support of Planned Parenthood and abortion rights in St. Louis, Missouri, on May 30, 2019.

A gubernatorial candidate in Missouri is arguing against abortion access for rape victims on the basis that it would technically allow babies to gain access to the medical procedure.

Republican Missouri State Senator Bill Eigel took the draconian (and idiotic) stance during a debate last week, over an amendment to the state’s already restrictive abortion ban. Missouri has only allowed abortions in the event of medical emergencies since shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022. The new amendment, proposed by Democratic state Senator Doug Beck, would permit abortions for children aged 12 and under if they are victims of rape or incest, raising health concerns for child rape victims if their pregnancies were carried to term.

“You want to bring back the institution of abortion so that kids can get abortions in the state of Missouri. A 1-year-old could get an abortion under this,” Eigel said, according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch.

The uneducated response immediately called for a fact-check from Beck.

“I don’t know that a 1-year-old could get pregnant, Senator,” he retorted, before asking if Eigel was “OK” with the “forced birth of a child being raped.”

“I don’t support the institutions of rape or of incest. But your amendment doesn’t address those,” Eigel replied.

But Eigel isn’t alone in his condemnation of the bill. Another Republican, Missouri State Senator Sandy Crawford, claimed the incest and rape provision shouldn’t pass because “God is perfect.”

“God does not make mistakes. And for some reason he allows that to happen, bad things happen,” Crawford said. “I’m not gonna be able to support the amendments because I am very pro-life.”

Also last week, GOP representatives in the state unanimously voted down another amendment to the ban, proposed by Senator Tracy McCreery, which would have legalized abortion in all cases of rape or incest.

John Bolton: Trump’s Just Totally Making Stuff Up Now

Former Trump national security adviser John Bolton believes Trump’s threat to abandon NATO is real—but the rest of the details are made up.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

While the world continues to reel after Donald Trump claimed he told a European leader that he’d allow Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” to NATO allies if they didn’t “pay” their “bills,” some former members of his inner circle aren’t even sure he said it at all.

On Tuesday, Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton cast doubt on the incendiary story, claiming that it just didn’t sound real to him.

“I never heard him saying anything like that, and the way the conversation goes doesn’t sound real,” Bolton told Politico. “You know, he makes up a lot of conversations where people are always calling him ‘Sir.’ You know, maybe his subordinates are calling him sir, because that’s the right thing to do. But foreign leaders don’t call him sir. They either call him Mr. President or Donald, number one.”

“But number two, the fact that it’s an imaginary conversation that makes Trump look very good—as all of Trump’s imagined conversations do—doesn’t mean that he doesn’t believe what he’s saying,” Bolton continued.

To that end, Bolton believes that Trump’s desire to force the United States out of the strategic military alliance is very real.

“Look, I was there when he almost withdrew, and he’s not negotiating,” Bolton said. “His goal here is not to strengthen NATO, it’s to lay the groundwork to get out.”

Trump’s comments—even outside of the White House—may have the impact he’s looking for. On Sunday, The New York Times reported that Trump’s bombastic story may force what was once a quiet conversation out into the open: how the 75-year-old Western alliance might prepare for a world after America removes itself as the centerpiece.

Republicans unquestioningly have quickly fallen in line behind the GOP front-runner, brushing Trump’s veiled threats off as something not to be taken “literally” and claiming that Trump should not be considered a “traditional politician.”

“I think there are some Republicans who support Trump out there saying, ‘Oh, it’s, you know, it’s not a big deal. He’s not going to do it, so on and so forth.’ I’m telling you, I was there in Brussels when he damn near did it,” Bolton said, referring to the 2018 NATO summit.

According to Bolton, a policy hawk who also served under Ronald Reagan’s administration, the consequences of exiting the Cold War alliance could be dire, effectively resulting in the end of NATO, leaving behind a fractured and significantly weakened European alliance, while devastating America’s international credibility as an ally.

“If we’re willing to throw NATO over the side, there is no American alliance that is secure,” Bolton said, questioning if Trump would do the same to Israel while in office if it suited his political purposes.

Trump has long aggressed America’s relationship with the international military alliance, baselessly asserting that other NATO members have failed to pay their dues, which are determined by guideline rather than mandate, and even though the United States has never been shortchanged by other members. The Cold War organization has “no ledger that maintains accounts of what countries pay and owe,” according to former Obama staffer Aaron O’Connell, who explained to NPR in 2018 that “NATO is not like a club with annual membership fees.”

“When Trump complains that NATO allies are not spending enough on defense, he’s not complaining to get them to strengthen NATO. He’s using it to bolster his excuse to get out,” Bolton explained.