The leak of John Bolton’s new book, “The Room Where It Happened”, has done what everybody expected by finally condemning a man in the eyes of millions. Unfortunately for Bolton, that man is John Bolton himself. The question today is: should we reserve him a little sympathy?

Imagine the scenario. You’re a man who is solidly Republican to his core, as well as a hero to many on the right who share your hawkish views on foreign policy. You’re no friend to Democrats, yet you also possess a story (it will turn out many stories), which they urgently want you to tell, about a President who you’re willing to admit is unfit to run the country.

What do you do? Do the patriotic thing that helps the country but also aids your political foes, whilst destroying the partisan standing you’ve built up over a lifetime of service? Or do you wait to publish your book, pocket a $2 million cheque from Simon & Schuster, and retain some credibility as a voice of true Republicanism?

For months, questions about Bolton’s character have been floated around Washington, across cable news networks, and in the written press. Why would John Bolton not want to testify before Congress? Why did he play footsie with the Senate, yet hardball with the House of Representatives? Why did he issue a “come and get me” to one, and lawyer-up with the other?

It was assumed at the time that Bolton knew “something” but not enough to harm the President seriously. The White House had been reluctant to clear the book, which disappeared into the vetting system, as the Trump administration continued to issue legal threats over its publication. Yet obfuscation was typical of anything concerning Trump, who last week even had his lawyers threaten CNN over the quality of their polling. Surely, if Bolton knew something damaging, he wouldn’t sit on it for the sake of money…would he?

The prevailing logic became that the moustachioed foxtrot he was dancing before the public was clever marketing, boosting the profile of a book that would otherwise be ignored. Its first review in the New York Times highlights the “the clotted prose”, “garbled argument” and “sanctimonious defensiveness”.

In other words, typical Bolton, whose reputation as a copious note-taker on his yellow legal pads is only matched by his lack of brevity. Nobody was ever going to confuse John Bolton with John Grisham. Yet this would still be the best chance the former US Ambassador to the UN would ever have to crack the non-fiction chart.

Now details of the book have begun to leak, the logic of Bolton’s actions is harder to fathom. There are possibly five or six stories here that would have destroyed other presidents. It begins to resemble a lucky dip of presidential crimes, in which details of the Ukraine scandal – confirming Trump’s abuse of power – are perhaps the least damning.

Trump, it is claimed, asked China’s President Xi to help him win re-election by boosting his popularity in farming states by stressing “the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome”.

Bolton says that the President treated “obstruction of justice as a way of life”, and stories of Trump’s interactions with world leaders begin to sound like Marlon Brando’s Godfather, offering to “take care of things” and to “give personal favours to dictators he liked”. He even had Mike Pompeo (who once slid Bolton a note saying Trump “is full of shit”) deliver a copy of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” CD to soothe tensions with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un after his inflammatory “fire and fury” remarks.

Bolton’s reputation as a hawk perhaps belies the degree to which he belongs to the old normalcy of American diplomacy. He seems particularly perturbed by Trump’s negotiating tactics. The art of the deal was not so much evident as the art of self-promotion. “An exercise in publicity” is how Trump viewed the Singapore summit with Kim, where America gained nothing, and North Korea was elevated back onto the world stage.

There are so many allegations here that a dozen impeachment trials could be spun from them. Which brings us back to the question: why did Bolton wait so long?

At the rump end of last year, Nancy Pelosi faced the same agonising choice: push forward with an impeachment process that was likely to clear the President and perhaps even boost his chances in the subsequent election; or she could ignore the crimes being committed by the White House and, in so doing, normalise them.

Either choice held political risks. She knew – as did everybody – that it was simply too late and numerically improbable to remove this president with a Republican Senate. Pelosi, however, calculated that pushing on and losing would be less toxic than waiting for the election. She was right. It was not long before people couldn’t talk about the impeachment “trial” without placing it inside air quotes. The Republican shame translated into anger among Democratic voters, boosting their chances in November. Pelosi made the right call.

For John Bolton, however, there was no choice that wouldn’t leave him politically isolated. In the end, it would appear he chose to be isolated from the people who had always been his political foes. November could represent a change in his fortunes. Trumpism would be forgotten in the struggle to move the GOP on. Bolton so clearly believes he will be part of the future, at the very least in his former role as a conservative pundit.

Understandable? Perhaps. Except, not entirely…

There are points where this story transcends the everyday polarity of blue and red. Bolton is hardly the first person to object to the way the President conflates the good of the country with his personal fortune. We already knew that Trump approaches politics in the way he approached business. Bolton is, however, one of the very few witnesses to the deeper moral turpitude of this President. One anecdote stands out as substantially worse than the rest. Bolton’s accuses a sitting American president of agreeing with the Chinese leader that building concentration camps to house the Uighur Muslims was “exactly the right thing to do” and that he should “go ahead with building the camps”.

This is the enigma in all this, the question that many have asked about Republicans: does being a conservative mean more than brand loyalty to an identity?

Bolton’s portrayal of Trump is the darkest to have emerged through recent biographies; this version of the President presents a palpable threat to democracy in America. If Bolton is right, Trump is not just unsuited to that high office, he is morally unfit. Was it really right to hold this information back? Didn’t America need to know this earlier before Trump was threatening to put troops on the streets?

Aren’t some facts too big to be left scribbled on a yellow legal pad?