John Bolton publishes a book describing his tenure as President Donald Trump's National Security Advisor. The Trump administration sued on Tuesday to postpone its release a week before its release. Of course, major news agencies have now "received" the book and are publishing the most explosive passages from the memoirs.
And oh boy.
Bolton's book The Room Where It Happened contains numerous notable allegations of things President Trump said and did during his interactions with foreign leaders – and Bolton felt compelled to publicly speak about or to talk about in the months since he left office to testify unless he was officially summoned during the Senate's impeachment process.
But now that he has a book to sell, the Republicans' longstanding foreign policy hand seems ready to dine.
In the book, Bolton, who again refused to volunteer under oath during the impeachment process because the White House told him not to do so, accused the House of Representatives led by the Democrats of "imposing impeachment errors" by not referring to Trump's business Ukraine goes out to investigate other Trump interfering actions. Such as Bolton's claim that Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping for election assistance and other cases where Trump tried to use his power for personal or political purposes. (Vox hasn't seen the book in full, so we rely on reports and excerpts that have been published elsewhere.)
John Bolton listens to President Trump during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi on April 9, 2019. Alex Wong / Getty Images
As a national security advisor, Bolton was definitely in the room where things had happened, and as such, was privy to Trump's talks with world leaders, perhaps more than most. This gives his claims a degree of credibility.
At the same time, this is Bolton's report, and it's not as if he and Trump split up on good terms. Bolton, a conservative hawk, didn't always seem to be the right choice for Trump's more isolationist foreign policy approach. and the two fought over issues like North Korea and were unable to start wars. Some of Bolton's claims may be self-serving or difficult to test.
Of course, it would have been easier to test his claims if Bolton had testified before congressional threats of perjury.
Given that there are no heroes here, below are some of the wildest and most unsettling tidbits from Bolton's memoirs. Read it and imagine an alternative universe where Bolton's mustache moves up and down as he makes an opening statement to the House Intelligence Committee in fall 2019. It helps somehow.
Trump asked Xi for help with his election prospects
According to Bolton, President Trump raised his prospects for re-election with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a one-on-one meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Japan. Xi mentioned China's critics in the US and, according to Bolton, Trump believed the Chinese leader meant Democrats. So Trump apparently thought he had an opportunity.
According to the Washington Post:
"Then, surprisingly, he turned to the upcoming US presidential election, hinting at China's economic ability to influence ongoing campaigns, and asked Xi to make sure he would win," Bolton writes. “He emphasized the importance of farmers and increased Chinese soybean and wheat purchases in the election result. I would print out Trump's exact words, but the government review process before publication decided otherwise. "
Of course, Trump had already publicly asked China to investigate its political rivals when it was already being investigated because it put pressure on Ukraine to do the same. So it's not as bad as the other thing that supposedly happened at that meeting.
Trump asked Xi to continue interning Muslims in China
According to the Washington Post, Bolton writes that the Chinese leader at the same Trump-Xi meeting at the G20 defended the detention of 1 million Uighurs in internment camps.
"According to our interpreter," Bolton wrote, "Trump said that Xi should continue building the camp, which Trump thought was the right thing to do." Only the two leaders and their interpreters attended the meeting, so Bolton relies on what the interpreter said after the meeting.
The Uighurs, a Muslim population in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, were forced into so-called "re-education camps", which are characterized by reports of torture and political indoctrination. A Pentagon official called it a "concentration camp."
Beijing has imposed a repressive policy on the group and closely monitored the Uighurs. It is a clear violation of human rights and ethnic cleansing that a Trump has at least publicly condemned.
Bolton's book says Trump has spoken out against sanctions against China for trade negotiations, according to the Wall Street Journal. On Wednesday, the day Bolton's book was published, Trump signed the 2020 Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, according to the White House.
Trump is learning about nuclear weapons …
According to Bolton, Trump was apparently surprised that the UK – one of America's closest allies – had nuclear weapons during a meeting with former British Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018. "Oh, are you a nuclear power?" Trump said according to Bolton.
Britain was the third country to acquire the atomic bomb after the United States and the Soviet Union. The first successful test of an atomic bomb was carried out in 1952.
So some time ago.
… and about geography
Bolton writes that Trump once asked General John Kelly, then chief of staff, whether Finland was part of Russia.
Perhaps this is more forgivable when you consider that Bolton also claims that Trump at a White House meeting in August 2018 "claimed Venezuela was" really part of the United States "and called for military options to enter the South American country and keeping it under US control, "writes the Wall Street Journal.
Trump also apparently said that an invasion of Venezuela would be "cool," according to the Washington Post report on Bolton's book.
Trump wanted to withdraw from NATO with a dramatic TV scene
Bolton claims that Trump decided during a NATO summit in 2018 that he had and wanted to have enough with the historic alliance:
"We will go out and not defend those who have not (paid)," read a message that Trump dictated to Bolton.
Bolton tried to stop Trump from spreading the threat and became even more alarmed when Trump told him, "Do you want to do something historic?"
Trump had some constitutional issues
In the book, Bolton claims that Trump told China's Xi that the Americans wanted him to lift the two-time limit imposed by the U.S. Constitution on the president.
Bolton also claims that Trump, who appears to be crazy about media leaks from his administration, complained in 2019 that journalists should be locked up. According to Bolton, Trump said: "These people should be executed. They are dirt bags. "
Interference with Ukraine, yes, but so many other things
Bolton's book, according to excerpts, also confirmed that the former national security advisor saw military aid to Ukraine as linked to an investigation involving Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton. Per the Times:
On August 20, Mr. Bolton wrote, Mr. Trump said, "He was not in favor of sending anything until all of Russia's investigative materials related to Clinton and Biden were handed over." Mr. Bolton writes that he, Mr. Pompeo, and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper tried eight to ten times to get Mr. Trump to release the aid.
Bolton also claimed that Trump interfered well in U.S. law enforcement when it meant helping his buddy, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to the Washington Post:
"Trump then said to Erdogan that he would take care of the matter, saying that the South District prosecutors were not his people, but Obama, a problem that would be resolved if they were replaced by his people," Bolton writes.
Bolton said he warned Attorney General Bill Barr of Trump's behavior at a meeting where Barr said concerns about the "manifestations" of Trump's behavior, according to the Post.
Bolton also says that by focusing only on Ukraine, the house committed "impeachment errors" because if they had concentrated elsewhere, Bolton claims "there would have been a greater chance of convincing others that" high Crimes and offenses "were committed."
If only there was someone who could have changed that.
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