A lot of news outlets across the entire political spectrum had a major news item about John Bolton today. An example from the CBS News Twitter account:


Colombia's foreign minister says his government doesn't know why U.S. national security adviser John Bolton had "5,000 troops to Colombia" written on a notepad he held during a news conference announcing new Venezuela sanctions https://cbsn.ws/2RTGRUr enter image description here

Nearly every news outlet has an article on it, no matter their country or whether they're conservative or progressive. However, in times like these, it's relatively easy to fabricate a picture or a video, though I doubt you could fabricate evidence on this scale. Still, I thought it was worth asking, especially since all these journalists seemed to have taken this picture at exactly the same time.

Did John Bolton hold a notepad with the text "5000 troops to Colombia" when he announced the sanctions?

Added by Daniel R Hicks: Here is a closer image of the notepad, gotten from a CBS clip by way of Colbert's Late Show. (Yes, I know the show is satirical, but this was during the "build up" and is not, so far as I can tell, modified.):

enter image description here

No doubt better versions are available, so I invite someone else to provide a better one.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Sklivvz
    Feb 2, 2019 at 20:29

1 Answer 1


As further confirmation, the Associated Press says:

Asked to explain the words, the White House said in an email to The Associated Press that “as the President has said, all options are on the table.” The statement did not say anything further about the note.

  • 3
    The new link appears to be to an automatically updating feed - the relevant quote keep moving down the page. Jan 29, 2019 at 17:31
  • @Federico It's still there for me. Here's an alternative link to the same quote, but through the Washington Post. washingtonpost.com/politics/congress/… and another alternative journalgazette.net/article/20190128/AP/301289687
    – DavePhD
    Jan 30, 2019 at 9:10
  • 7
    How does this confirm what was written on Bolton's notepad? "All options are on the table" is pretty much the standard answer to anything related to foreign policy until an actual decision has been made to do something. Announcing exactly what you would or would not do or publicly drawing "red lines" on what would trigger a given response is normally seen as a bad idea.
    – reirab
    Jan 30, 2019 at 20:46
  • 1
    @reirab if someone in the fake-news-media faked the writing on the tablet, I’m sure the White House would be more than happy to point that out.
    – DavePhD
    Jan 30, 2019 at 22:20
  • 1
    @DavePhD Perhaps... if they even bothered to check the story themselves. Whether a story is actually false doesn't seem to be strongly correlated to whether they call it fake or not, though. I'd say there's a pretty good chance that this was just the White House responding the same way they have to pretty much all other questions regarding this situation, though... with the standard "all options are on the table" line.
    – reirab
    Jan 30, 2019 at 22:26

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .