Washington — President Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton alleges in athat Mr. Trump pushed Chinese President Xi Jinping in trade negotiations to agree to purchase American agricultural products in order to boost Mr. Trump’s political standing with U.S. farmers and help him win reelection.
In an excerpt of Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir” published by The Wall Street Journal, Bolton condemns what he calls the “incoherence” of the president’s trade policy and his focus on winning a second term.
The excerpt was published minutes after stories about the memoir’s contents appeared in The New York Times and Washington Post, both of which said they had obtained copies of the book ahead of its scheduled June 23 release.
The longtime conservative foreign policy hawk describes a meeting with Xi and Mr. Trump on June 29, 2019, in Osaka, Japan. Bolton says Xi told Mr. Trump “that some (unnamed) American political figures were making erroneous judgments by calling for a new cold war with China.”
“Whether Xi meant to finger the Democrats or some of us sitting on the U.S. side of the table, I don’t know, but Trump immediately assumed that Xi meant the Democrats. Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility to China among the Democrats,” Bolton writes.
“Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win. He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome,” Bolton continues.
Bolton writes that he was prevented from reprinting Mr. Trump’s exact language due to the administration’s review of the book, meant to ensure that no classified information was included.
“I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise,” Bolton writes. The Justice Department on Tuesdayagainst Bolton, who resigned as national security adviser in December 2019, arguing the book contained classified material and should not be published.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department filed a motion for preliminary injunction seeking to halt the publication of the book. “Disclosure of the manuscript will damage the national security of the United States,” the DOJ said in the application.
The memoir’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, a division of ViacomCBS, said in a statement that the filing “is a frivolous, politically motivated exercise in futility. Hundreds of thousands of copies of (the book) have already been distributed around the country and the world. The injunction as requested by the government would accomplish nothing.”
The book includes assertions that Mr. Trump thought Finland was part of Russia and didn’t know the United Kingdom is a nuclear power. Bolton also claims the president called journalists “scumbags” who should be “executed.”
The president took to Twitter early Thursday, calling Bolton “incompetent.” He said, “Wacko John Bolton’s “exceedingly tedious”(New York Times) book is made up of lies & fake stories. Said all good about me, in print, until the day I fired him. A disgruntled boring fool who only wanted to go to war. Never had a clue, was ostracized & happily dumped. What a dope!”
Wednesday night, Mr. Trump said on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” that releasing the book means Bolton broke the law. “Very simple. I mean, as much as it’s going to be broken. It’s highly classified information, and he did not have approval,” Mr. Trump said.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal Wednesday evening, the president called Bolton “a liar” and said “everybody in the White House hated” Bolton. He also denied Bolton’s claim that, as the Journal puts it, he “gave his blessing” to Xi to build detention camps for China’s Uighur Muslims. The Journal says a Bolton spokeswoman declined to comment.
According to the excerpt in the Journal, Bolton says in the book that “Trump’s conversations with Xi reflected not only the incoherence in his trade policy but also the confluence in Trump’s mind of his own political interests and U.S. national interests.”
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