John Bolton is the likely pick for deputy secretary of state in Donald Trump's administration — the No. 2 position at the State Department, sources told ABC News.
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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: ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson.
Here's what you need to know about Bolton:
Name: John Robert Bolton
What he used to do:
In August 2005 during a congressional recess, President George W. Bush appointed Bolton to temporarily serve as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Unable to win confirmation from a majority-Democratic Senate, Bolton resigned in December 2006, when his recess appointment would have expired.
Then–White House spokeswoman 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."
He 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 10 stories today, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."
But 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 was a foreign policy adviser to presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012 and an informal adviser to Ted Cruz in 2016. He is currently a counsel in the Washington office of Kirkland & Ellis and a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
Bolton received his undergraduate and law degrees from Yale University. During Ronald Reagan's and George H.W. Bush's 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 Bill Clinton's administration, Bolton was an attorney at Lerner, Reed, Bolton & McManus and the senior vice president of American Enterprise Institute.
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 Nov. 12 commentary for The Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Bolton outlined what he believed should be Trump'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, he advised Trump to undo the deal on his first day in office.
Bolton's third priority was 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 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."
His fourth and fifth priorities were addressing China's territorial claims in the South and East China seas and protecting U.S. sovereignty, respectively.
For weeks, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has publicly urged Trump not to appoint Bolton to any position in his administration. On Sunday in an interview on ABC News' "This Week," Paul said he would threaten to block any nomination of Bolton.
Last month in an opinion piece for Rare, Paul wrote, "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.